August 23rd, 2019, Bengaluru: Samarthanam Trust, a greatly admired National Award-winning NGO organized the Assistive Technology Conclave. For two decades, Samarthanam has expanded its organization, offering services to numerous people of Disability. The conclave was the first of its kind in this country. It was centred around innovative technological Startups for disability.
The cornerstone of the conclave was to recognise the finest and the most functional assistive technologies. It gave a platform for all the startups, entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists to discuss and create solutions for challenges that people of disability face. The diverse group had representatives from the corporate, social and political sector. They discussed the current hurdles faced by the differently-abled and most importantly, to explore ways to integrate and aid the differently-abled population. The Profoundly Celebrated sportsman, Mr Rahul Dravid also participated in the discourse. Respected Priyank Kharge, Ex-Minister of Social Welfare and Mr Kumar Naik, Principal Secretary, Dept. of Social Welfare, both represented Govt. of Karnataka at the conclave.
Rahul Dravid began the function by inaugurating the Assistive Technology Accelerator (ATA) Lab. The conclave’s schedule included two interesting Board discussions which deliberated on significant areas related to Assistive Technology for the differently-abled. In the first disquisition, the theme was; ‘How to Shape the Future of the Assistive Technology Ecosystem and its impact on the world’. Mohan Sundaram (CEO & Founding Director, Artilab Foundation) was the moderator, Gaurav Mittal (Co-Founder, Eye-D), Jeevan Reddy Anupalli (Lead Accessibility Consultant, Edgeverve), Suryaprakash (Ex-SVP, Digital Head, Infosys) Gopal Srinivasa (Microsoft Research Accessibility Team) were the board members for the first round of deliberation.
In the second session of disquisition, the selected topic was ’market access and opportunities for Assistive Technology’. Jawahar Bekay (Executive Chairman, TAO: The Automation Office) – MODERATOR, Basavaraju Siddalingaiah (State Commissioner Disabilities Karnataka), Madan Padaki (Co-Founder & CEO, 1BRIDGE), Deepa S (Lead Diversity & Inclusion, APJ at EMC), Surabhi Srivastava (Co-founder at Innovision) were the participants who deliberated in the second board discussion.
The persistent and laborious efforts of ATA has raised public awareness about the needs and difficulties of the disabled. And they have been quite victorious so far. Last month, ATA was seen on Indian Startup Show by impressing a top podcaster Neil Patel, with their work.
In its latest, report, World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over a billion people around the world live with disabilities today. In India itself, the number of people registered with disability accounts for over 21 million, 2.1% of the country’s population. Prateek Madhav, CEO, Assistive Technology Accelerator said, “As home to one of the largest populations of the disabled, we have an opportunity to develop solutions that not just impact lives locally, but also around the world. However, assistive technology remains to be a segment unknown to many, even within the technology, startup, and corporate ecosystems. AT Conclave is the first step towards building a more robust support system for these startups, and realize their full potential with likeminded investors, corporates and partners”.
Mr. Mahantesh GK, Founder Managing Trustee of Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled said “Samarthanam has always looked ahead and had a futuristic vision for people with disabilities. Because of our strong vision of Technology and inclusion, we believe that the ATA initiative is going to be a big enabler touching many more lives. Samarthanam has always forayed in the field of disability empowerment, providing technology education such as voice to text and text to speech recognition, digital and audiobooks and services to people who are visual, speech/hearing impaired and with other disabilities, to build productive lives. We must leave no stone unturned in building several infrastructure services and digital products to enable the lives of the disabled. It is my desire that every disabled person is enabled and empowered to have access at their fingertips. I am proud of the inclusive trajectory ATA has taken and I wish the ATA initiative the very best in its endeavours as they continue to proactively build capabilities in the accessibility space.”
The conclave engaged more than 150 prominent representatives from the topmost corporates, Non-governmental Organizations, venture capitalists, investors and technology-based startups. ATA also displayed startups from its accelerator initiative, which included Eye-D, Innovision, Tactopus, Illuminify, BleeTech, Indent Designs, Torchit etc.
“This conclave is a great opportunity for us to interact with so many potential partners and mentors in one day. As a startup with such a niche market, we always struggle to find the right audience that can help us take our product to the right markets. By hosting the conclave, ATA has accelerated that journey significantly”, said Gaurav Mittal, Co-Founder & CEO, Eye-D.
ATA Initiative aims at creating an ecosystem for merchandise enhancement and market access through mentor guidance and partner organizations. The Assistive Technology Accelerator focuses on bringing technological innovations, lessening the cost of inventions and increasing the accessibility of Assistive products to the differently-abled population.