5 Reasons why the world needs +N

+N logo which includes rainbow colour text '+N' accompanied by bold black text 'inclusive innovation network'. Underneath the logo is a purple button with white text 'inclusiveinnovationnetwork.org/launch'This week marks another momentous occasion in the development of Remarkable as we launch +N, The Inclusive Innovation Network. We feel an incredible privilege and responsibility for this work – there is an excitement in the team for what is emerging.

Momentum is hard to create.

Some say that when one door closes, another opens. That was certainly the case for us when some potential funding to launch a US Remarkable Accelerator didn’t eventuate in 2019. And to make matters worse, after having traveled to the US a couple of times to start feeling out the beginnings of a network there, the world locked down at the beginning of 2020, restricting travel and surely putting an end to expanding Remarkable.

Instead, we started to look around for other like-minded organisations who, like us, could see the potential of innovation in technology to break down barriers to inclusion. The next chapter of discovery could be developed into a mini-series but in the interest of time let’s look at the key milestones:

Something was brewing!

We began meeting and dreaming of what was possible. A network to connect disparate activities around the world needed to be central. And now here we are.

So why are we launching +N? Here are 5 reasons why the world needs +N.


1. Inclusion: We build what we hope for

The world is not as inclusive as it could be. So we can and must do all we can to break down barriers to full inclusion. 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability, a talent pool is largely ignored and untapped. The world needs this talent to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time.

2. Network: Startups thrive on networks

We regularly encourage startups to increase their surface area to help them learn, iterate and grow. They can’t have all the answers to the challenges that inevitably confront startups. Networks of expertise and experience are lifeblood for startups. What if there was a hivemind you could turn to, to find out how to overcome some of those challenges? What if, when considering launching into another market in another part of the world, there were startups in those locations, helping you navigate a potential go-to-market approach?

3. Capital: There’s not enough capital in Disability Tech

That’s it. That’s the point.

We will change that by sniffing out aligned investors from all over the world and providing one focal point to find great companies making a big impact.

4. Growth: Accelerating the accelerators

Remarkable is constantly iterating and changing as we learn and grow. We learn from our counterparts in other sectors, but we also want to accelerate our learning by learning how others are accelerating and growing great businesses in disability tech and innovation.

5. Community: Like breeds like

Prateek, Noel, Minnie, Jani, Randy, Varun, Bernard – are all brilliant leaders we hold the utmost respect for. Already we’re starting to meet other awesome folks – Gina, Cathy, Narayanan, Pooja, Shashaank, Lucas. I couldn’t think of people we’d rather hang out with.


So inclusion, network, capital, growth and good people we want to hang with – are just 5 of the reasons why the world needs +N right now! And on that note, this week we’re excited to invite the world to the global launch event of +N on 1st September and you can check out the promo video of what’s to come!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71uCy18vzG0[/embedyt]

An audio-described version of this video is available on our YouTube channel.


Register for the launch of +N now at, https://inclusiveinnovationnetwork.org/launch

7 lessons from working with our startups in 2021

I remember heading into 2020 and it felt like a year dripping with possibility and excitement…then Australia suffered devastating bushfires and then, a global pandemic.

2020 taught us to expect the unexpected and to be prepared to respond to change and uncertainty in the best way possible with limited experience, sometimes very little information, and oftentimes, less emotional resources.

Little did we know that this lesson of expecting the unexpected would be essential for 2021 as the world was forced to continue to navigate a global pandemic.

Now jump to July 2021 and I find myself writing this blog, navigating another unexpected yet expected lockdown, but with a huge amount of pride for what the #RA21 cohort of startups have achieved. Amidst the constant change and uncertainty of this year, they accomplished so much, and it was fitting to celebrate them last week at our online Demo Day.

Reflecting after Demo Day, it became clear that I’ve gained so much from working with each of our founders and I want to share just a few of these lessons. So here are my 7 lessons from working with our #RA21 Founders…



I have been canyoning a few times, but have not yet been white water rafting. In my mind I see lots of parallels between white water rafting and startup life – there’s lots of random splashing and quite a lot of unfamiliar waters around you; you feel small and insignificant amidst the power of the rapids surging around you, knowing your small raft could fill with water at any moment.

Your job is to find the most efficient path without getting caught on rocks, stuck in eddys and without capsizing. Sometimes, you get into a fast-moving section of the river, and the small course corrections you make are just trying to keep your boat in that flow. Other times you feel like you’re frantically paddling and needing to execute on 5 maneuvers at once – paddles flying, eyes wide.

The team from MediStays found a section of the river that was moving quickly, COVID accelerated their development with hospital beds needing to be freed up to make way for more patients. The ability to access short and medium-term accommodation was difficult, but MediStays provided all-in-one solution that solves that problem. All of a sudden there was massive demand, 30-40 inbound inquiries a day – without any marketing spend.

We saw the team from MediStays execute many masterful strokes, keeping the boat in the slipstream, riding this wave of market pull. They worked hard to make good strategic decisions that would give them a better boat in the long term, all while responding to the immediate needs of their flood of customers.

Sometimes when these moments come along and you just need to hold on and ride it out.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6HV2fk8INk[/embedyt]



Startups have lots of moving parts and a founder’s job is to prioritise those moving parts to grow what they’ve conceived into a business before running out of money. What we saw in Humane was a team that went back to focus on the basics of solving a problem for their customers and developing a solution that they loved.

Managing NDIS budgets can be complex and Humane have a solution that families are excited by. They love the solution because it solves a complex problem for them and word is spreading as other families discover this lovable product.

Founders do well to go back to basics and to prioritise their attention on what they can do to solve a problem in a way that customers will fall in love with the solution.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MkwKqlPPoQ[/embedyt]



When you lead with passion, champions for your cause will follow. Mohamed is no ordinary founder. Now on his 3rd startup, he has gained international recognition from the Obama Foundation, Forbes, MIT and all this before he’s even turned 30 years of age! His passion to use engineering to benefit humanity is contagious. Beyond attracting attention and recognition, it has started to attract talented individuals working with him and international advocates wanting to support his work.

When you lead with passion, people have more than a transactional relationship, they taste your vision for the future and that becomes attractive as you gain other champions for your cause.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaQQJMRbEiw[/embedyt]



One of our startup coaches, Ben Reid, always used to say, “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no”. Establishing networks to distribute your products – be they hardware or software, is a constant challenge for early-stage startups. There’s only so much product you can sell to your friends and family.

One of the things we saw Penny – the founder of Recovawear and Wearable & Co – was to ask larger supply networks if they could stock her products. Yes, she got some “no’s”, but she also got some “yes’” as well. Deals on the table with large organisations with big reach and opportunities globally. All because of her ability to hustle and ask the question.

Founders most of the time don’t have much to lose by asking seemingly impossible questions that help your business grow. Just do it.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaslZvs-BQc[/embedyt]



Spix App started off the back of a 3 week Design-athon in October 2020, where a team of strangers came together to consider how they might make eSports more inclusive of people with disability. They did customer discovery, research, prototyped something, tested with customers and iterated. During the months following the Design-athon, the team worked to further validate their assumptions.

At all points in the journey, the team felt like they were the beginners in an advanced class, but they kept going, not without challenge, but they kept putting themselves out there.

Too often startups try to perfect their products; to wait until the opportune time; to get more assurance that they’re on the right track. But sometimes you will learn more with a beginner’s mind than you will when pretending you’ve got everything sorted.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IOZyOkazVQ[/embedyt]



I’ve probably not met someone as eager to learn as Maddy Scavone, the Founder of Speckles. She was like a wonder cloth soaking up all she could. If we put a suggestion for a potential mentor to meet, she met them. If a lead was sent her way, she pursued it. And it paid off. She’s now working with one of the top glasses designers through a connection her coach helped her to make.

A founder will never have all the answers to the absolute barrage of questions they are faced with every day. So they must increase their surface area, listen and learn more. Accelerators should do that for founders – they should dramatically increase the network the founders have access to. Yes, it’s still up to the founder to sort ‘wheat from chaff’ when it comes to that advice, but a larger surface area will ensure wider intelligence is consulted to help make those decisions.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_H96kG4l44s[/embedyt]



I love the story of the gold medal-winning GB Eight rowing team who were completely underrated before the Sydney Olympics and had often finished not just out of the top 3, but often in 7th place. In everything they did in the final 2 years leading up to the games, they had one unifying question, “Will it make the boat go faster?” If it was a decision about whether to train or not – “Will it make the boat go faster?” If it was deciding if they were to go to the pub to have a drink – “Will it make the boat go faster?” Their absolute single-minded focus on that question of would it make the boat go faster was, in their mind, what won them the gold medal.

The TheraPlayTV team has a focus on what they want their vision – the end result – to be. When you hold onto that end vision, it does help prioritise the things that are more or less important. It provides focus in your execution.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0t5CwQj7NE[/embedyt]


It’s been a privilege for the Remarkable team, coaches and mentors working with each of the founders. We love when we learn while watching these founders create the future. So while things still feel a little uncertain as we head towards the end of this year, founders do well to hold on, create products people love, lead with passion, hustle, put yourself out there, lean into the intelligence of those around you and focus on the end game.

These lessons are only some of the valuable things I have learned from our #RA21 Founders and I encourage everyone to follow these startups. The world is better because of them!

You can rewatch and share the entire #RA21 Demo Day event below and an audio-described version of the event is available at https://bit.ly/DemoDayAD


[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1l7Yrji3nQ[/embedyt]

Designing the Future Now

We are so happy with the brilliant launch of our Remarkable Insights a few weeks ago with a Conversation on Innovation Through the Disability Lens.

Our remarkable live panel included Srin Madipalli, Founder and Investor, Product Manager at Airbnb, Professor Jackie Leach Scully, Director, Disability Innovation Institute UNSW, and Janice O’Connor, Manager for Research, Innovation & Stakeholder Engagement, Onemda.

If you missed it you can watch the full event on our YouTube Channel above and our talented #SYD20 alumni Isabelle Quigley from Neurodiversity Media created a visual scribe of the key points from the discussion that you can check out below.

Pete Horsley, our Founder took the time to write a blog post based on some insights provoked by the voices in the conversation, check it out!


Designing the Future Now

By Pete Horsley, Founder of Remarkable

Photo of Pete Horsley
Pete Horsley, Founder of Remarkable

Marketing to 100-Year-Olds is a fascinating article by technology leader and Forbes writer Shama Hyder on how Stanford University is looking at what happens to society when everyone starts living to 100 and the impact that will have on keeping people physically fit, financially independent and with good mental acuity.

On a long enough timeline every single one of us will think products that enable accessibility will be of utmost importance. Granted the personal reality of ageing is staved every now and then when that one 94-year-old extremely limber dancer busting out some hip gyrating moves, or that 80-year-old marathon runner who survives on a diet of red wine and dark chocolate, pops up on your news feed, but physical and intellectual impairments are a reality for all of us who are fortunate enough to live beyond 80 years of age and it may even be a reality much younger than that.

Our good friend from Ireland, Noel Joyce, who has had almost a decade growing hardware startups across the globe, sees it differently – he said “[What if] we can use the knowledge of disabled people today to understand all of our challenges of tomorrow?”

Srin Madipalli (Co-Founder of Accomable – acquired by Airbnb) spoke recently about providing for the needs of people with disability is a great proxy for designing efficient labour-saving products and services. While one is a game-changer for someone with limited mobility, for example, it is by its nature benefits all other users as well.

In other words, what if we have a living lab available to us right here, right now who are our best futurists? What difference would that make to the way we design our smart cities or create our workplaces and homes of the future? How would we alter product and service design? What if all designers start to think about designing for their future selves – because there is no escaping disability as we age?

A couple of years ago I was approached by one of the largest residential developers from Thailand who asked about what relevant technologies we had access to that he could build into his new developments to allow someone to “age in place”. He gets it. He sees this intersection between disability and ageing.

So what are we waiting for?
We need to start now.

Smart city planners need to be designing for this.
Corporate organisations need to be designing for this.
Product designers need to be designing for this.

A few months ago I was conversing with a colleague Angela who is living with cerebral palsy and she mentioned she had an idea that would fix the problem she currently faces of not being able to cross the street independently because she can’t push the button with her hands. She asked why we couldn’t have a foot button as well.

It reminded me of this very accessible door opener at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles that allowed anyone to open the door by pushing on any part of the long button. Such a small change – and yet this would be accessible by more people (think: parents holding a baby and a pram, or someone who is carrying far too much shopping) and give Angela the ability to travel autonomously.

A glass door and the white accessible door opening button that is a long bar that stretches from close to the floor to around 1m off the ground.
A glass door and the white accessible door opening button that is a long bar that stretches from close to the floor to around 1m off the ground.

Angela is our expert in residence. She is the key to designing for the future. The issue is, that Angela often doesn’t have a voice in these conversations and there is no doubt in my mind that we are all worse off because of it.

Each month we host Remarkable Insights – a 45-minute webinar with guest panelists discussing how to bring the inclusive future into the now. Join in the next conversation, or re-watch the previous episode. #RemarkableInsights

Founder Profile | Brian from CPToys

Pete spoke to Brian Hoare, Founder of CPToys, this week to find out his highlights from Remarkable so far, what he aims to get out of the 16-weeks and his tips for setting yourself up for success when working from home.

Some of the key takeouts from this ‘on the couch’ session with Brian…

Tell us a bit about CPtoys

CPToys provides individualised therapy advice to therapists and families of children with cerebral palsy by matching toys to a child’s age and specific therapy goals.

Why did you decide to apply for Remarkable?

I built CPToys in 2014 to test the waters to see if it would be useful for therapists and parents. We had 5,000 in that time, so with that traction, it demonstrated the concept was well received. To take it to the next level and ensure it becomes an essential component of therapy for kids with CP, I want to harness the power of Remarkable to tap into the expertise of the team, mentors and wider network which has so far been amazing.

What are your highlights of the program so far?

The Product Sprint has been a highlight. It has allowed me to put all my focus on CPToys, not just do the work on the side. So far in the program, I have learned a lot about the business side of things, making decisions about the future of the business and user testing.

How are you finding the program being online?

It’s all been running really smoothly. The biggest barrier to tech is that we don’t have those ‘in the moment’ interactions with the other founders, and I know I would really learn a lot from those interactions.

What do you think will be the greatest challenge in the program?

I have grand plans for CPToys so the challenge for me is to bring together all the ideas and knowledge in order to set up the business for success in the future.

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to getting a range of feedback from existing a new users.

What are your tips for working remotely?

My standing desk! As an Occupational Therapist, I’m all about design, ergonomics and being set up safely with good work habits. My biggest tip is having an environment where you can change your position and take regular breaks in the sunshine if you can.

You can check out more about CPToys on their website and connect with Brian on LinkedIn.

Meet our new Marketing & Events Coordinator, Viv Mullan

Viv has joined the Remarkable team as our new Marketing & Events Coordinator. Viv has a wealth of marketing and TV experience as well as a background in volunteering for disability services. She is passionate about championing creating creative opportunities for people with disability and a fan of Dr Seuss! So in the words of Dr Seuss we welcome Viv to the team…

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!

Viv Mullan

Tell us a bit about you and your background experience

Since graduating from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Communication and Media (Marketing & Advertising major, Visual Arts minor), I’ve held a number of creative and marketing-related roles, as well as spent some time working in film.

Immediately after graduating, I pursued a career in Public Relations for a health and wellness agency followed by Marketing for Sydney Tower Dining. In these roles, I gained experience in social and digital marketing strategy, media relations and copywriting/content creation.

With some marketing experience under my belt, I decided to spend some time following my passion for film. Working mainly onset in the Art Department, for a variety of films and TV Shows productions supported by streaming services such as Stan, Foxtel, and the ABC and Channel Nine.

More recently, I shifted my focus to pursue work that combines my passion for creativity and my belief in promoting an inclusive society focusing on creating career pathways for people with disability – something that I’ve championed since my teens when I first started volunteering with my local disability services.

I’m now committed to ensuring my career aligns with my passion for advocating and building sustainable pathways for an inclusive society, which is why I’m honoured to be part of the Remarkable team.

What attracted you to work with Remarkable?

I learnt about the fantastic work that Remarkable were doing through a dear friend of mine who I met while working in the inclusive filmmaking space. So, when I saw they had an opening, I was so excited to apply for the position! This role will allow me to combine my passion for promoting inclusive opportunities together with my experience in creating practical solutions to eliminate social barriers experienced by people living with disability.

What part of the program are you most looking forward to?

I can’t wait to see the positive impact this program will have on the wider community. I’m looking forward to seeing the products that the startup companies who are part of the #SYD20 cohort are working with the help and guidance of our mentors.

We’d love to get to know you a bit more, what do you like to do in your free time? It might be that you’ve got a special skill or interest to share with us?

I’m originally from the South Coast of NSW so I’m naturally a nature enthusiast (pardon the pun)! So, when I have a free day to myself, I like to start by finding a new spot to watch the sunrise from – be it at the beach or up a mountain. I’m also a serial hobby starter – at the moment I’m trying to learn the ukulele, master chess, play golf and learn to speak Italian … and, much to George’s excitement, I signed up for my first (mini) triathlon… this was before I knew I was going to be working with George who is a professional triathlete, wish me luck!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

  1. Never compromise your values
  2. Beyond the practical tasks, measure the success of each day by how many people you make smile.

Do you have an inspiring book / podcast / tv show you would like to share with the startups and the Remarkable community?

Having three nieces under the age of three means most of my inspiration comes from Dr Seuss. My favourite poem to read to them is ‘Oh the places you will go’, and I encourage people of all ages to pick up this poem as often as possible.

Any tips for remote working now that we’re an online program?

Even though so much can be done from the comfort of the couch in your comfy pants, it’s important to cherish the moments you can outside by taking breaks to breathe in the fresh air and feel the warm sun on your face.

Thanks Viv. It’s been great to get to know you. Feel free to reach out to connect with Viv on LinkedIn.

Why Neurodiversity Needs Visual Storytelling

Visual scribe by Neurodiversity Media

Isabelle Quigley from Neurodiversity Media, has been creating some incredible visual scribes for Remarkable as part of her Remarkable accelerator journey and we thought you may be as curious as we are about how visual scribing works. Here are some examples of her work and a blog that she prepared for Neurodiversity Media last month. Thanks for letting us share this, Issy!

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but rarely on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and even Instagram have I seen an image unaccompanied by text. Rarer still are images that are designed solely to explain a point, that contain an entire idea within them. But for me, and many neurodivergent people like me, visual storytelling is an essential part of understanding the world.

Since I was young, I have gravitated towards drawing mind-maps, mazes and anything that takes a story and translates it into a visual experience. It is only since my diagnosis with ADHD last year that I have begun to realise how much visual storytelling means to me, despite years of struggling to concentrate through long strings of text.

Visual Scribe by Neurodiversity Media

A diagnosis has a way of re-framing so many experiences. I used to think of myself as a failure for not processing information as others did, for not ‘succeeding’ in places I now know I wasn’t meant to be. I used to think of my love of drawing as a distraction from ‘real work’ I often failed to complete. But with a better understanding of myself and my condition came a stronger appreciation of all that visual storytelling can do, especially for neurodivergent people.

Visual scribing (also known as a graphic recording) is the art of translating a written or spoken story into a visual language. It connects concepts in a way that appeals instantly to the eye and the memory, increasing retention. For neurodivergent people like me, that have trouble processing large amounts of text, visual scribing has become an inadvertent accessibility tool. Learning how to visually scribe myself has greatly improved my ability to understand complex concepts.

Visual scribe by Neurodiversity Media

Another advantage of the visual scribe format is that it aims to condense the story into the space of a page. This forces both the artist and the viewer to focus on the core ideas being expressed. For people with dyslexia, this form of information presentation can also be an accessible alternative to reading a long article that may not be possible to read otherwise (for example, it is not in a Dyslexia-accessible font or it has black text on a bright white background).

None of this is to say that you have to be neurodivergent or a ‘visual learner’ to appreciate visual storytelling. The beauty of the medium is that it is easily accessible, understood in a short amount of time and much easier to remember than a wall of text. Also, for those with vision impairments, images can still have an impact, especially in a digital space. With the advent of alt text, screen readers and image descriptions, the essence of these images are translated for everyone to share.

Visual scriby by Neurodiversity Media

Visual storytelling has always been an essential form of expression, but many people, including myself, are only now beginning to understand the applications it has in the neurodivergent community. From my experience, neurodiversity and visual storytelling go hand in hand. My ADHD makes me a better visual scribe, and without it my experience of the world would be very different.

For me and so many neurodiverse people, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Thanks again to Issy for your fantastic blog. To find out more, visit Neurodiversity Media and follow Remarkable on social to see more of her visual scribes throughout the accelerator program.

Female Founders Are Good For Business

Celebrating Remarkable Female Founders on International Women’s Day

Celebrating Remarkable Female Founders
Celebrating Remarkable Female Founders

Did you know that startups with female founders and co-founders are significantly better financial investments? A report by Boston Consulting Group found that for every dollar of funding, startups founded and co-founded by females generated 78 cents, while startups with male founders generated less than half that — just 31 cents.

The research doesn’t end there. McKinsey, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and the Peterson Institute for International Economics all found that having a high percentage of women in a company’s senior leadership results in significantly better financial results.

What more proof do you need? Well, we’re proud to say that almost half of the 25 startups who have been through our 16-week accelerator program over the past four years are led by female founders or co-founders. And they have been amongst our most successful startups so far.

If you’ve been following startup news lately, you may have seen that our very own, Entrepreneur in Residence, Alan Jones’ Facebook post, or the articles that have followed, on the topic of affirmative action. If you haven’t, it’s worth checking out. As Alan said in a follow-up story in the AFR, “We’re meant to be the experimenters. We’re supposed to be the people that say maybe merit and quotas can co-exist. But so that we can get to that position … perhaps you need to find more women first.” Go Alan!

We know that there is still a long way to go, so we asked some of our outstanding female founders to share with us their advice for future female founders…

Cheryl Gledhill, Co-Founder of JobMatcher said “My advice is ‘you belong here too’. It’s so easy to let the self-doubt and imposter syndrome get to you, but please just keep believing that you have a place here too and you don’t need to make yourself smaller or apologise for taking up space. You belong here.”

“My wish is that we don’t need to specifically call out female founders because it’s so completely normal that it would be weird that it’s pointed out that you’re a female founder. You’re just a founder.”

Elisabeth Yunarko, Co-Founder of Spokle commented on her hope for future female founders, “I want to see more of us around, more of our ideas being taken seriously, backed up earlier, and supported to reach commercial success in the long haul. Perhaps the conversations can start early on – at the dinner table, with our daughters and granddaughters so they can see that the path is there.”

With the theme for this years’ International Women’s Day being Each for Equal, we encourage each and every one of you to do your part to make a difference. Each of us has a role to play in making the world a more equal and inclusive place. As Cheryl says, in the future, we won’t need to call out female founders, they will just be founders.

Aren’t Christmas Newsletters something only your great aunt does? Well we’re going there anyway!!

Yes, it’s Christmas again and no I’m not prepared for it. But it is one of my favourite times of the year. Despite the hype and the constant pull towards accruing more stuff, there is also a spirit of generosity, of spending time with those we love (and those we tolerate!) and it is a marker in the year – signifying the end of one thing and the beginning of another.

A family driving and singing in a car.

Each year I drive up to Brisbane with my family to see our relatives and there is something about the 10+ hour drive that I find cathartic – driving between the commanding sandstone walls of the highway heading north out of Sydney that signifies tying a bow around the year and saying, “That’s enough”. It gives time for reflection and for recalibration.

When it comes to Remarkable, we’ve seen some extraordinary successes and some temporary setbacks this year. Here are the notable features of the year.

Overall, we’re seeing extraordinary growth across multiple metrics for the 25 startups we have supported – customer reach up 418%, 44% increase in staff and more than $23M in capital raised. Our startups now see more than 32,000 customers!

We’ve seen 3 startups close investment rounds this year (Umps Health, Xceptional and loop+) and Home Care Heroes have just opened their first round. Xceptional debuted an Australian-first funding instrument – BOLD (Beneficial Outcomes Linked Debt) which could be a game-changer for startups in the social impact space. It means that cash repayments are based on a share of revenue and also that the loan balance can be reduced both by cash repayments and successful achievement of positive outcomes (placing people with autism in jobs). Great work Xceptional and Impact Investment Group!

We did get some recognition for being “The Most Disruptive Innovation Project of 2019” by GiveEasy as part of the Innovation for Impact Awards. And we also nominated cohort #4 co-founder of PolySpine, Riley Saban who won the Young Leader of the Year at the Third Sector Awards. Riley who is just 16 has plans beyond PolySpine to change the face of assistive technologies.

We always say it takes a village to raise a startup and our village got a little bit bigger this year – we extended our incredible partner network – adding to icare, Telstra and Macquarie, we introduced Microsoft as a new partner in 2019. While we say farewell to Macquarie, we’re excited for what 2020 will bring. Our village also got a bit bigger with 3 new EIR’s – people filling the big shoes of Ben Reid – we had Alan Jones, Addy Chu and Jacob Muller, joining Margaret and I. We loved working with these talented individuals as they coached our startups.

2 Remarkable Founders from Spokle speak to a customer who is a wheelchair user in the foreground. All three are laughing or smiling. While a group of five people mingle in the background.

It continues to challenge us when we see opportunities to take what we’ve learned to other larger markets and we did think that 2019 was going to be the year for that. We submitted an application for Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award – a global competition to fund 5 organisations to the tune of $10 million each to expand their impact. As you know we were selected in the Top 12 from around 1,000 applications worldwide but were not successful in our bid. It was an extraordinary amount of work from a lot of people and with support from many of you – thank you again.

While disappointing, we now can refer to ourselves as one of the top 12 most innovative social impact programs in the world (lemons to lemonade baby!) and while this is a temporary setback, we no longer see it as an opportunity, but an imperative to grow the impact of technology overcoming barriers to inclusion.

So in 2020, we will be exploring a global alliance of disability tech startup accelerators – from partners in 6 other countries – India, Canada, New Zealand, England, Kenya and China. As well as exploring opportunities in the US market. We see the opportunity to expand our impact faster when we work together.

And we want to work on what happens post-accelerator – for us, our work isn’t done until startups are no longer startups and they’re having sustainable impact. So post-accelerator program support will be a critical path of development for Remarkable in 2020.

Until then we wish you and those you care about a safe, joyful and hopeful Christmas and New Year’s. See you in the future, but for now, just know that you are remarkable!

Pete Horsley, Founder

The 3 Big Trends Influencing Assistive Technology

At the recent icare Conference in Sydney, Pete Horsley, Founder Remarkable, spoke about the opportunity for positively impacting the lives of those with disability and acquired injury has never been greater. Where could this intersection of disability and technology go? Here is his message…


The 3 Big Trends Influencing Assistive Technology

Advancements in technology for people with a disability are lagging. Lots of assistive technology remains mono-functional, expensive and clunky. Remarkable’s mission is to see elegant and affordable technology solutions in the hands of people with a disability, as a way to overcome barriers to inclusion. For us to realise that mission, we need to consider what is happening more broadly in the tech world. We see 3 trends influencing tech development, that disability tech will need to adopt in order to bring its much-anticipated growth.

Technology experts are in agreement that we are now into the fourth industrial revolution. First steam, then electricity and mass production, more recently came the third revolution of digital technology. Now the fourth revolution builds on the third and connects the billions of people and technologies with each other in the cloud and simulates human intelligence processes using computers. This. Is. Big.

Right now, we are sitting at the edge of an incredible new era in technology. The opportunity for positively impacting the lives of those with disability and acquired injury has never been greater. Where could this intersection of disability and technology go?

Already we are seeing the ways that robotics, wearables, sensor technologies and AI can aid people with disabilities to overcome barriers and become a powerful driver of inclusion. Add to this the coming global rise of an aging population and there is a market opportunity that technologists, entrepreneurs and engineers would be crazy to ignore.

Like it or not, if you’re ignoring these trends, you will be left behind. These are the 3 Big Trends Influencing Assistive Technology:

  1. Expectation Transfer

Each day we are introduced to new levels of user experience through technology. The virtuous cycle creates rising customer expectations of how we anticipate interacting with a company. Typically this has included things like good customer service and a perception of value for money. Increasingly though, these expectations are being inflated through our interactions with companies like Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. Now we expect companies to personalise their support for us, provide proactive service and “one-click” functionality.

Application: As founders, start thinking about one way you could provide personalised, or proactive service and experience through your product or service.

  1. Big Data and AI

Humans are fascinating – we often find ourselves in constant states of contradiction when it comes to data, disclosure and customer experience. Customers expect personalised experiences, but equally, are completely sceptical about whether that data will be kept secure or if it will be used for other purposes for the benefit of the company. Salesforce in their 2nd edition of the State of the Connected Customer, talked about the importance of trust when it comes to handling a customers data, but do also state that “79% of customers are willing to share relevant information about themselves in exchange for contextualized interactions in which they’re immediately known and understood.” So we need to be transparent around why we’re collecting data, and demonstrate how it enhances the customer experience. Big Data and its use in AI is not just emerging, but it is fast becoming an essential ingredient in delivering the personalised approach customers are expecting.

Application: How can you think about designing products and services that are provided “just in time” – proactively understanding the needs of your customers. It might not form part of your first product, but how can you build this into your development roadmap?

  1. Seamless Integration

Denise Stephens is the Founder of Enabled by Design in the UK and started her journey into assistive tech after she was diagnosed with MS and was dismayed with how quickly her home started looking more and more “hospital-like” with the introduction of various aids and equipment she needed for managing her MS. She desperately wanted to see beautifully designed products that could be usable by a wide range of people, helping to remove some of the stigma of disability.

We’re fast approaching a time when the integration of technology built seamlessly into our lives is more possible than ever before.

Earlier this year we hosted a talk from esteemed Harvard Professor Leigh Hochberg on the research for BrainGate – a small array of micro-electrodes about the size of your “pinky” fingernail that is implanted into the brain to pick up neural signals and translates thought into signals to control robotic arms or communication devices. While the first versions included wires being attached to the head, newer versions are wireless and you may not know this incredible technology is allowing someone this level of autonomy and independence.

What does this mean for founders? Some of the best technology solutions aren’t obvious, they are seamlessly integrated into the person’s life, other enterprise technology can be housed on smartphones or built into development from the beginning.

Application: How can you think about the seamless integration of your product or service into the person’s life? Should you consider physical integration? Should you consider partnering with another startup to create greater value together, rather than just one piece of the problem? Or is this thinking about a more universally-designed product that meets the needs of many including people with disabilities?

What now?

There are a growing number of people all over the world who are rallying to create the next wave of truly transformative assistive technology. Never has there been a better time for this – the cost of production of tech is down and expectations for what tech can do are high and getting higher. Soon we will see seamlessly integrated technology and maybe, just maybe our hope for a more inclusive world will be realised.

Remarkable is a technology accelerator that supports early-stage, growth-driven companies looking to help people with disabilities overcome barriers to inclusion. Remarkable offers education, mentorship, and startup capital. Remarkable is on the lookout for the next crop of founders who are wanting to have a disruptive influence on the future of inclusive technologies.

Why Remarkable is going global with innovative technology

Photo: sa auitX
Photo: sa auitX

For the last 3 years at Remarkable we have seen that technology truly can transform the lives of people with disability. We have seen lower cost robotics, wearable sensors, customised 3D manufacturing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, that have helped to overcome issues of physical access, provided workplace aids, and has allowed someone with impairment to have autonomy and independence in ways they’ve never experienced before. And now Remarkable is looking to replicate its accelerator model overseas – first the US, then Asia. Setting up global chapters isn’t new – lots of accelerators are doing it – however for us this mission is an imperative. We believe that an inclusive future could be closer than we all think. But along with this excitement, there is a deep fear that things could get worse before they get better so we need to expand our influence as a matter of urgency.

Technology is built into almost every part of everyday life. Work, school, transport, cooking and entertainment – it enables our communication, it aids our health and provides convenience. But what if the very thing that we are becoming more and more reliant on was out of reach, or worse, that it became a barrier to our full participation in the world? That is the reality for many people with disabilities.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index in 2018 showed a significant gap in digital inclusion between people with disability and other Australians. In fact, the overall digital inclusion gap widened throughout 2017/18. This was mostly due to lack of progress around affordability and digital ability. It is imperative that we get this right.

This divide isn’t just happening locally. The global acknowledgement that the digital divide exists for people with disabilities is well documented. The UN calls people with disability the largest minority in the world. And yet, it is largely ignored as a market, with only 5-10% of the population who need assistive technology (around 1 in 10) having access to the assistive devices they need. The digital divide is leaving more and more people with disabilities behind, creating more barriers to inclusion. This shouldn’t be the case.

It is this reality that drives Remarkable to affect change globally in innovative technology for inclusion.

As with any systems change, there is no silver bullet. Others have written about the complexity involved in reaching the millions of people who need assistive technology. There is no denying that it takes more than just creating interesting technologies. But taking inspiration from colleagues at our Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute, who have collaborated globally with the best researchers, they have managed to see a reduction in the incidence of cerebral palsy in Australia from one in 400 births, to one in 700 births within the last 10 years! There are three things they’ve done that have influenced change that we can learn from:

  1. Courage.
  2. Tribe.
  3. Joined-up Thinking.


Seeing cure(s) and/or prevention for cerebral palsy is the ultimate goal of our research institute. It is not an easy goal. Having the will and determination to take on something of this magnitude, takes courage. Remarkable’s goal is to create an inclusive future through innovation in technology. We’ve begun to validate the problems with technology for people with disability in developed parts of the world, and also in developing parts of the world. And while the spectrum of work is broad and complex, there are some common threads – a small handful of large companies controlling the market, overpriced equipment, mono-functional use, difficult referral systems, and many more.

We don’t take on this challenge lightly. There will be obstacles. But the potential impact is worth it. The opportunities for technology to create a more inclusive world is well known. But progress so far has been slow.

The second key ingredient to change is linked to the first – the right tribe.


Our research institute knew that they weren’t going to prevent cerebral palsy alone. They needed to find the best and brightest research minds and to bring their thinking, and to be aligned around a common strategy.

The same applies for innovation in technology.

In May 2018, Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) hosted our first Technology and Innovation for Cerebral Palsy Summit in San Francisco – an invite-only gathering of around 80 technologists from industry, universities and, most importantly, individuals with disability and their families. We ended the two-day summit by posing the question: How we can lift the level of excellence for everyone in the room? The consensus was strongly around supporting commercialisation of ideas and funding for early-stage startups. This is the beginning of our global tribe.

Furthermore, user centred design places the user – the customer – at the heart of the design process, ensuring their needs are addressed. The earliest idea of Remarkable grew out of a two-day event called Enabled by Design-athon that was developed in the UK by Denise Stephens. As someone living with a disability, she was perplexed at how little assistive devices had changed in decades. So she sought to bring together people with disability, along with designers, makers and creators to develop products that met the users needs. In 2014 CPA co-hosted a 2-day Design-athon in Australia with Denise. It was some of the inspiration we needed to develop the idea of Remarkable. People with disability are at the centre of the problems the startups are solving.

Joined-up Thinking

When an Australian researcher discovered that cooling babies’ brains could reduce the severity of lesions on an unborn child’s brain, the next challenge was to educate professionals on the intervention. It’s not enough to develop a solution – the next challenge is to disseminate it. Cooling babies’ brains is one of the factors that has led to a reduction of the number of babies born with more complex forms of cerebral palsy in Australia in recent years.

It is not enough to have new technology released into the world. You need a pipeline of innovation. You need investment into startups. You need customers to adopt and trial technologies. You need markets to exist to buy the products. You need referrers. You need coordinated health systems. You need good government. You need big technology companies creating enterprise solutions. This is joined-up thinking.

It is not enough to just produce technologies, we’ve begun to create an ecosystem of customers, innovators, investors, mentors and enterprise and joining these dots to create joined-up thinking.

For CPA, taking Remarkable onto the global stage is driven more by the imperative than the opportunity.

It is not enough that we do this in Sydney Australia. We are at a particular point in time where the potential of the technology is there to overcome barriers to full inclusion. So help us take courage, join our tribe and be part of the joined-up thinking we need to get this life-changing technology into the hands of the millions of people with disability who could benefit from it.


  1. Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology
  2. Disability and Bridging the Digital Divide
  3. Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE)
  4. Remarkable is a division of Cerebral Palsy Alliance
  5. Promise of Technology for Persons with Disabilities