Data Driven Futures

Plexal names 10 startups for inclusion programme

Written by Hannah McGrath

Plexal has announced the first 10 startups to join the UK’s inclusion accelerator programme aimed at supporting products, services or projects that make work more accessible.

The innovation centre and coworking space based in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park last week announced a partnership with UCL and GDI Hub to launch the first fully accessible, specially designed space, for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are either disabled or focused on developing products for the disabled community.

The first cohort for the 12 week OpenDoor accelerator programme is made up from innovators and social entrepreneurs with a broad range of mission statements, from using technology to help children with autism develop their social skills, to improving the accessibility of airports.

As part of the selection process, Plexal has chosen organisations that can show the target audience is either heavily represented in the team, or that they have been - or will be - included in the design and development of the solution.

For example, Rezene Woldeyesus, co-director of cohort member Love Language, is himself deaf and started his business with co-director Naomi Bottrill after arriving in the UK from Eritrea as a refugee.

Over 12 weeks, Plexal will provide members with tailored workshops, one-to-one support and mentoring designed to help them develop their solutions and business models. The cohort members are:

1. Autsera, an organisation that empowers children with autism using technology and design thinking to make efficient, affordable and accessible social and communications skills learning tools.

2. BADU Community, which uses education, community and the power of sport to broaden, advance, develop and understand young people.

3. Disability Rights UK, the charity campaigning to strengthen and protect disabled people's rights so that everyone can participate equally in society.

4. Fledglink, which, through its free app, is on a mission to be the most helpful and supportive platform for diverse young people as they journey through the final years of education and into work.

5. Grid Smarter Cities, which has also taken part in Plexal’s London RoadLab mobility programme, has developed ADAPT (Assistance for Disabled Air Passenger Travel) to make it easier for people travelling by air to navigate through the airport and access assistance services.

6. Love Learning, a new venture that’s a collaboration between Plexal members Idea East and Love Language to support workplaces in becoming diversity-ready.

7. iOrbit, which is also a Plexal member, provides flexible business solutions for entrepreneurs and SMEs in the tech sector.

8. Inclusion London, which supports over 70 deaf and disabled people’s organisations in London and campaigns for equality.

9. Pocket Pals is on a mission to transform how children experience the natural world with the use of animation and augmented reality.

10. Sociability, empowers social inclusion through better accessibility information. Its app allows anyone to quickly and easily find detailed and reliable accessibility information for local shops and hospitality venues.

Andrew Roughan, managing director at Plexal, said: “OpenDoor is a hugely important part of Plexal’s inclusion work that will support up-and-coming ideas that have the potential to make a huge difference to workspaces and the sort of opportunities people from under-represented groups have.

He added:“Together with the launch of the East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone, it feels like now is the moment for the inclusive innovation sector to really take off – and east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the absolute nerve centre for this.”