Remarkable Helps to Bring Innovative Disability Products to Market
You come to Abilities to see the latest and greatest, the products and services from the cutting edge. At Remarkable, they are on the cutting edge of the cutting edge, and you can be among the first to try these new products!
Cerebral Palsy Alliance Issues Call for New Products that Change Lives
The idea for Remarkable came about through a design challenge on World Cerebral Palsy Day run by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) in Australia. They put out a world-wide call for people with Cerebral Palsy to submit an innovation that would "Change My Life in One Minute." The community then voted on the one idea that they would tackle. The most votes were won by Alper Sirvan of Turkey. His dream? A solar powered wheelchair.
A team of students at the University of Virginia decided to take on the challenge of building it. CPA granted them $20,000 to make the idea a reality…and they did! Through their work, Alper was able to utilize his new solar-powered wheelchair to get to a part-time job and to visit the temple he had always dreamed of seeing.
This experience led founder Pete Horsley to wonder how CPA could support more disability-focused businesses at scale. The result became Remarkable Australia, a 16-week accelerator program funded by CPA that equips early-stage startups with seed funding; expert coaches and mentors; access to end-users, and the skills needed to become commercially successful businesses that have a positive social impact.
Remarkable Launches US Branch to Support and Fund Disability-focused Start-Ups
The Australian Remarkable has been so successful that they recently tapped Molly Levitt to develop and run a USA version of Remarkable. Funded by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, CPA's sister organization in New York, Remarkable US will run their first fully US cohort next spring, with applications opening in fall of 2022. If accepted, the new companies will join Remarkable's16-week accelerator and receive up to $75,000 to get their product on the market.
While Remarkable has some formalized sessions, a lot of the program is designed to support founders wherever they are. "A start-up is like having a baby," says Molly, when I catch up with her in her home that she shares with her husband—both busily working on the US Remarkable.
"You don't know what the baby needs until you are right in the middle of the experience. We try to anticipate, but every startup is different! There are a lot of moving pieces."
Molly comes from experience forming her own start-up, so she is in a great position to guide Remarkable through its first US iteration.
The top inventors who are chosen get funding, as well as invaluable advice from people who know the start-up market. Remarkable has volunteer mentors from the industry who are there to support founders with any problem they may encounter, from building a successful business model and marketing their products to navigating the FDA approval process.
"An important part of the process," emphasizes Molly, "is actual testing with real end-users. Feedback is so important! However, as many of our user testers are people with disabilities, it is even more important that we are able to pay them. It is Remarkable's goal to be able to provide each company in our program a group of paid user testers covered by Remarkable."
Two of Remarkable's US companies will be at the Chicago Abilities Expo where they will each have their products to try. They would love to get feedback from attendees!
Try these Remarkable Prototypes at Abilities Expo
A robotic walking aid targeted at ankle assistance, Biomotum has already gotten some feedback from actual users. As Molly describes it, "the 'Aha!' moment comes when the user takes the device off. They can't believe how much more function they have when they are using the device! It restores levels of mobility they hadn't experienced in a long time, if ever."
An app and optional wrist band developed to help people navigate the world through touch. People who are blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing have used the Wayband by WearWorks to help them travel the world with more freedom.
These first two United States companies to go through the Remarkable program will be debuting their products at the Chicago Abilities Expo at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. You can experience these products yourself, and talk to Molly and her Remarkable team.
How to Bring Your Groundbreaking Disability Product to Market
Do you have a great idea for the disability community? Applications for the Remarkable process of Application – Choices – Funding – Accelerator will open this fall for 2023.
If invention is not where your talents are, but you want to be a paid tester for products, you can sign up with Molly and her team at booth 221 at the Chicago Abilities Expo.
Wherever your skills lie, the Remarkable Team is eager to meet you! Find out more at www.remarkable.org.au. Molly Levitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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