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16 Teams Take Part In Six-Week Program To Design Innovations Addressing Disability Challenges

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) inaugurated its Co-Creation Camp, the maker and mentor stage of its Enable Makeathon 2.0, in Bengaluru.

The Enable Makeathon is a programme initiated by the ICRC and its partners, including the Global Disability Innovation Hub among other partners, to develop prototypes and affordable solutions for challenges faced by persons with disabilities, particularly those living in rural areas. Teams comprised of engineers, scientists, designers, innovators, persons with disabilities, humanitarians, manufacturers, investors and entrepreneurs compete against each other for grants that will allow them to further develop and market their innovations.

During the 15-day Co-Creation Camp, 16 shortlisted teams will be mentored by ICRC partners, non-profit organizations and experts in the field of innovation and technology to help them finetune their innovations to best address the challenges related to disability. Each team is developing an innovation that directly responds to one of the 12 Enable Makeathon challenges including access to education, access to tourism, and access to transport.

The day began with a walk-through of maker’s spaces where teams will work to design and finetune their innovations.  The highlight of the day, however was when prominent personalities from the fields of innovation and development came together for a panel discussion on the theme – ‘Listening to Needs – Humanitarian Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Inclusivity’. The panelists were V. Shakthi – tech analyst and blogger; Deepa Narasimhan – Diversity and Inclusion lead, DELL, EMC; Mohan Sundaram – Trustee, Association for People with Disability & Founder – Artilab; and Mahantesh GK, Founder Managing Trustee, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, President -World Blind Cricket Ltd (WBC) & President, Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI). They had a lively discussion chaired by Jeremy England, Head of Regional Delegation for the ICRC in Bhutan, India, Nepal and the Maldives, and attended by Christine Beerli, Global Vice-President of the ICRC.

The panel discussion highlighted the challenges of accessibility, affordability and inclusivity for persons with disabilities and put forth ideas on how these issues could be addressed. Speaking at the event, Christine Beerli commented, “The Enable Makeathon has created a space for disabilities, innovators, entrepreneurs, to come together to help solve the challenges for the people who need it most. India’s talent and socio-economic environment makes it an ideal testing ground for innovative solutions that can be exported to the rest of the world.”

After the Co-Creation Camp, the Enable Makeathon 2.0 will culminate on February 5, 2018 when three winners will be selected for an incubator grant and will win the chance to participate in a 1-year incubator programme to further develop and scale their solutions.

Talking about innovation and development, Jeremy England, Head of Regional Delegation ICRC New Delhi, said, “Technology is a force to level the playing field. We see it as a bridge for those with disabilities to ensure they are not left behind. But you cannot bridge unless you include those people normally excluded from the process of solutions. If they aren’t at the table and testing on-ground, then the solutions won’t have impact. The Enable Makeathon is one such platform where through an inclusive approach, we are aiming to strengthen the ecosystem that will help move things forward for real impact.”

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