The Kenya Christian School for the Deaf emerges as the winner at Innovate Now Cohort 5.0 awards

 Kenya Christian School for The Deaf, (KCSD) a social enterprise has won cohort 5 of  Innovate Now Cohort 5.0 awards by Innovate Now. KCSD introduces deaf children and their caregivers to sign-language through an alphabetical puzzle board game. They emerged as the winners during the Innovate Now 5th Demo Day, held on 5th August 2022 in Nairobi

Innovate Now is Africa’s first assistive technology (AT) accelerator and the Demo Day was the first one under the digital assistive technology and entrepreneurship project-a partnership between GDI Hub, ICT Norway and Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD).

In a hybrid fashion combining in-person and online demos, eight assistive technology ventures from across the US, Uganda and Kenya pitched to demonstrate new digitally powered assistive technology solutions enabling persons with disabilities overcome barriers within education, transportation, information technology, tourism, health, and wellness, providing solutions to everyday challenges for disabled people in East Africa and beyond.

The event kicked-off with keynote remarks from GDI Hub and Norad followed by back-to-back pitches where founders from each venture pitched for 5 minutes in front of a virtual and in-person audience in Nairobi. This was followed by a 7 minutes question and answer from a panel of judges. Assistive technology solutions for children with hearing impairment, learning disabilities and speech disorders dominated the Innovate Now Cohort 5.0 awards.

Learning Differently, a Startup that provides methods and tools for students with learning disabilities came in first runners up position while EZSpeech, a startup which provides an affordable AI-driven speech therapy worldwide came in second runners up position.

Other promising and captivating pitches included: Dasuns, a Startup from Uganda providing access to on-demand assistance for persons with disabilities, Disability Innovation Suite, a web-based personalised wheelchair provider, Knock Knock, an internet of things Startups that helps deaf users identify important audio-based sounds, Uptyke Consulting a Startup that helps curriculum developers create accessible content and Accessible Travel a Startups that uses web and mobile to give persons with disabilities accessible travel experiences.

Speaking at the event, Bernard Chiira, Director- Innovate Now and Country representative, GDI Hub said. “Congratulations to all our cohort 5.0 finalists. The last 12 weeks have been intense, and we have seen their dedication to the last day. Our commitment to AT founders in Africa is long-term and we are happy that this marks just the beginning of our journey together. All the finalists are now one of the world’s largest and fast-growing ecosystems of assistive technology Startup. With a growing network of partners locally and across the world and the commitment of our funders Norad, the support towards investment and scale will continue, through our new alumni programs”.

Cohort 5 was launched on 16th May, the same day as the publication of the first Global Report on Assistive Technology by WHO and UNICEF, co-sponsored by GDI Hub. Cohort 5 is part the first of three cohorts under the theme of digital Assistive Technology and entrepreneurship. Applications for cohorts 6 are still open until 15th August 2022.