Assistive Tech Impact Fund launches global call for innovative African solutions

Global Disability Innovation Hub, Catherine Holloway, Brink, Catalyst Fund, Tamara Giltsoff
Feb. 11, 2021

It is estimated that at least 135 million Africans are without access to much-needed Assistive Tech (AT) solutions. The Assistive Tech Impact Fund (ATIF) is changing the prospects of innovators in this space, providing up to £200k of grant funding alongside expert-led venture-building support to facilitate the growth of the AT sector in Africa.

Launched out of the UK Aid-funded AT2030 programme led by Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), the ATIF is a collaboration between GDI Hub, Brink, Tamara Giltsoff and Catalyst Fund. The partnership combines deep expertise in AT, innovation and venture building in Africa.

1 billion people globally live with a disability, but 90% of these people lack access to affordable AT which would drastically improve their quality of life. Despite the sector being steeped in innovation and creativity, many products are not getting to the people who need them. The ATIF supports AT innovators, alongside other sectors key to unlocking sustainable scaling solutions (such as manufacturing, distribution and finance). 

The ATIF is looking for entrepreneurs committed to bringing AT innovations to Africa, who have evidence of business model traction in an African market, this could include; hearing assessment and hearing aid devices, eye testing and eyeglasses, prosthetics solutions (and innovative means of their production) and mobility solutions.

The fund is also seeking distribution, financing or innovative manufacturing ventures that could play a role getting AT to the populations that most need it. Successful applicants will receive tailored venture building support and coaching from world-leading experts, alongside brokering and matchmaking to partners and investors. 

Submissions must be received by 21st February 2021. Successful innovators will be notified by the end of March, following a shortlisting and pitch process. By growing AT companies in Africa, the ATIF will help launch and scale solutions while facilitating the growth of the wider African AT ecosystem.

Lea Simpson, ATIF Director and Brink Co-founder said “It’s easy to throw numbers around when it comes to the scale of the issue, but one billion people lacking basic access to AT is 1 in every 7 people on planet earth. It’s a privilege for Brink to play a small part in exploring how a fund might support the positive growth of the sector and create massive change in this reality.”

Professor Catherine Holloway, Academic Director of GDI Hub said “Our UK Aid funded AT2030 programme has been developed to test ‘what works’ to improve access to life-changing Assistive Technology (AT) for all. The Assistive Tech Impact Fund is a new mechanism to accelerate the AT market in Africa – where need for innovation and access is greatest. By combining our AT Innovation know how with our partners' wider business model and behavioural economic expertise we aim to unlock new solutions for scale, building AT ecosystems and driving change.”

Applications have now closed.