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Remarkable startups: How Huy’s changing the game

Tech4Good

Posted on August 22, 2017

4 min read

There’s a reason why the Remarkable Accelerator has such a bold name. In part it’s the Remarkable ideas behind each of the inclusive startups who are part of the program. But mostly it’s because of the Remarkable people involved. We want to share their Remarkable Stories. Here’s Huy’s story.

Two things changed Huy Nguyen’s fate in the earliest years of his life. Born in Vietnam, at 18-months-old Huy contracted polio. It invaded his nervous system causing irreversible paralysis to his legs. This was only part of the catalyst for the second significant change just three years later, when the Nguyen family made the 12,000km journey to Australia to start a new life.

Today, the 32-year-old humanitarian engineer and technology entrepreneur, often reflects on what could have been his ‘alternate life’. As a person with a physical disability he is acutely aware that had his family stayed in Vietnam, he would not have had the same opportunities afforded to him in Australia.

It’s perhaps for this reason meeting a young man in East Timor six years ago had such an impact.

Huy travelled to Timor in 2011 to work with the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) agencies, focusing on the needs of people with disabilities. It’s a trip he describes with one word: enlightening. In Timor even the topic of disability is taboo – to have a disability is seen to be living with a curse. That’s the environment Joel, a bright young East Timorese man who lost the use of his legs in a car accident, lived in.

“Joel is just like me, but because of where he lives, he has no opportunity for employment or even for education – and a different level of care and support available,” Huy explains. “While I was there I started to think about the power of technology and how we could use it to amplify education and training surrounding disabilities.”

And the idea of Enabler was born.

Huy explains that Enabler is a new way to train disability support workers. Instead of broad-ranging, theory-based courses and death-by-PowerPoint, Enabler uses a mobile 3D platform to put learners into real-life situations.

“It’s scenario-based and immersive training – putting people into real life simulated environments. By using 3D animated scenarios, support workers are able to practice real-life and emergency scenarios,” Huy explains.

And it can be accessed anywhere, any time – creating easy-to-access, bespoke training for people in regional and remote areas. What’s more, there’s a desperate need for Enabler.

“Did you know that Australia needs to double the amount of well trained disability support and aged care workers by 2020?” Huy says. “That’s 600,000 we need to train. Enabler is going to help achieve that.”

Angela Li is Huy’s partner in life and co-founder of Enabler; she is also his carer. The pair met at university and have never looked back. Angela’s understanding of the role of a carer, and the physical impacts of Huy’s polio, bring the depth of knowledge that only the lived experience can bring.

“Enabler was born out of my personal need,” Huy says. “But this is not just about me. It’s about the one in five Australians who have a disability, it’s about our fast-aging population. These people need disability support services to be able to fully participate in society.”

And through the Remarkable Accelerator its training they will be delivered sooner than they had hoped. Huy and Angela were one of eight businesses to be part of this year’s 16-week Remarkable program – an accelerator for early stage startups using technology to change the lives of people with disabilities. A partnership between the Telstra Foundation and Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Remarkable is Australia’s first inclusive startup accelerator and provides funding, masterclasses and world-class mentoring through a 16-week program.

“To me, Remarkable is about starting an important cultural shift in business innovation,” Huy says.  “For too long the disability movement has been seen as a charity and hand-out cause. It’s anything but that. Remarkable is about showing the value that accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities brings to our community – both socially and economically. We’re thrilled to have been part of this Remarkable program and growing our business with like-minded startups who are on the same journey.”

Find out more about Enabler here.

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When tech and imagination come together

Tech4Good

Posted on December 5, 2016

3 min read

Programs such as Remarkable’s Enabled by Design-athon remind us that inclusion is also a challenge of our imagination, writes Natalie Falzon.

Three hours and 37 cents. That’s all that was needed to get 20-year-old Marusha Pride back in the fast lane. The Sydney-sider wasn’t able to use her electric wheelchair due to spasms in her hands, and had been waiting six months for a $1000 modification to come through.

Then, something rather special happened. Marusha met Mel Fuller and Johan du Plessis, co-founders of startup Ability Mate. The pair use 3D printing to make assistive devices that can be customized for unique needs. And that’s exactly what they did for Marusha. The duo and designer Kin Ly worked with Marusha, who lives with cerebral palsy, to design and 3D print a bespoke controller.

“It took us three hours and cost us just 37 cents in material,” Mel says. “We all had tears in our eyes as she drove around for the first time in months, with a huge smile.”

Abilty Mate is one of four inspiring inclusive start-ups who recently graduated from the Remarkable accelerator in Sydney. A partnership between the Telstra Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Alliance and NSW Department of Families and Community Services, the Remarkable accelerator gives startups who use technology to create solutions for people with a disability (aka inclusive startups) – the tools, skills and network they need to succeed.

Each of the four startups who took part in the inaugural 16-week accelerator this year were, truly Remarkable (pun absolutely intended). They included Sound Scouts, which leverages gaming to identify undetected hearing loss in children, abil.io, who use real-time data to support accessible journey planning and diversityX – a platform to coach people with disabilities to express their value to potential employers.

To mark International Day for People with a Disability (IDPWD) – we’re proud to be launching Remarkable’s 2017 Enabled by Design event. This will see more than 100 innovators, inventors and people with a disability descend on the University of Sydney in February for a part-hackathon, part-design sprint.

The event aims to address real-life challenges faced by people living with a disability – and merge innovation, cutting‐edge technology and business strategy to demonstrate how great design can change lives.  We’ve putting the call out now for individuals and teams to take-up the challenge and sign-up for Enabled by Design-athon. Top teams will not only share in $10,000 of cash and prizes, but will also be offered a place in the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s 2017 Remarkable 16-week accelerator program.

Technology truly allows us to do wondrous things. It can put us in two places at once, help save a life and breathe life into machines. Both the Enabled by Design-athon and the Remarkable accelerator remind us that inclusion is not just a challenge of technology, but a challenge of our imagination.

 

Be part of the Enabled by Design-athon

Applications for the Enabled by Design-athon (EbD) are now open until 9 January and individuals, teams and corporate groups are encouraged to apply. The event has been designed to include anyone who is passionate about inclusive design – from the curious novice to expert leaders in this space. Further information enabledbydesignathon.org.au and remarkable.org.au.

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Changing the face of digital for the social impact sector

Tech4Good

Posted on September 26, 2016

3 min read

Disrupters like Uber and AirBnb have transformed how we call taxis and book holidays. But what if non-profits and the social sector could harness these same skills? The Fitzroy Academy is doing just that.

Meet Will.

Will made his first dollar selling stolen lemons at age 6. His father taught him to code a year later.

Now, all grown up, he founded a digital agency purpose-built for the social impact sector and an NGO that uses his coding skills to lift Cambodian farmers out of poverty.

Will has been teaching people in the for-purpose sector digital and startup skills for over a decade, from small weekend hackthons to writing courses for big universities.

At the Telstra Foundation, we’re passionate about the impact non-profits and social enterprises can make – especially when they harness the transformative power of digital to get things done.

That’s why we joined forces to bring Fitzroy Academy to life. Here’s a sneak peek.

 

Australia’s first digital toolbox for the social sector, Fitzroy Academy is built specifically to help non-profits and social enterprises develop cutting-edge digital skills. It’s all about scale – making industry knowledge accessible to everyone in the organisation.

This is for everybody, as Will told me this week: There’s a ‘trickle-down teaching’ problem in workplaces. Massive fees often mean organisations only train their best and brightest, hoping those leaders will inspire the rest of the team. It’s not particularly equitable.

“Instead, we’ve netted experts who are too busy working to teach – because they seriously know their stuff – and turned a small amount of their time into ultra-useful, easily accessible lessons.”

Disrupters like Uber and AirBnb have transformed how we call taxis and book holidays. But what if non-profits could harness these same skills?

Fitzroy Academy combines knowledge from the digital sphere – user experience and design thinking – with soft and entrepreneurial skills like agile project management, crowdfunding and lean methodology.

Will is passionate about the cause: “There’s plenty of support for corporate and business start-ups and high-flying talent – it’s the non-profits who really need a hand. Fitzroy Academy brings together those elite geek skills with the people who are really making a difference.”

Jump on and say hi to Will at fitzroyacademy.com.

 

Fitzroy Academy is all about doing. To mark the launch of this Australian-first platform, all social sector organisations are invited to get in and have a go with a free 14 day trial. Dive in at fitzroyacademy.com.

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Telstra Foundation announces $2.4 million in ‘tech for good’ partnerships

Tech4Good

Posted on September 22, 2014

4 min read

Digital technology has an enormous capacity to deliver social change and community connection – something we get to see more of every day as charities and non-profit organisations embrace ‘tech for good’.

Today, this idea received a $2.4 million boost with the announcement of five new Telstra Foundation community partnerships. While our partners individually tackle different issues, collectively they share a commitment to leverage digital technology to drive social outcomes. This is at the heart of everything we do at the Telstra Foundation. We call it Everyone Connected. (more…)

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