HackABILITY: Accessibility Leading to Independence

Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding and daunting career path that is one of many choices for young professionals to explore. Joining together to help support passionate teams with a desire to create solutions for individuals with disabilities, ICUBE, RIC Centre and ARROW Electronics launched a new and extended hackathon, hackABILITY.  The goal of this extended hack was to facilitate the rapid prototyping of devices that may be considered for further development and commercialization, while raising awareness about emerging assistive and adaptive technology opportunities.

The competition began early in October with finalist teams working on their ideas, since receiving mentorship and support from various partner organizations, and  presenting their solutions  at University of Toronto Mississauga. The event featured five finalists unleashing their creativity as they pitched their business ideas to a large crowd, competing for cash and in-kind prizes valued at over $35,000.

The Grand Prize winner of hackABILITY is  SmartCane, a local tech start-up with a mission to increase mobility, autonomy and safety for the visually impaired and deaf-blind communities, led by Grade 9 founder Riya Karumanchi (White Oaks Secondary School)

The SmartCane team is working towards developing a working prototype. This process will be exponentially expedited by the following prizes they are taking home:

         $1,000 Cash Prize from ICUBE, plus access to the OPEN Program ($5,000 value)

         Instant access to RIC Centre’s programs – Startup Bootcamp, workshops and seminars, 360 Virtual Advisory Board ($5,000 value)

         $10,000 of in-kind services including industrial design, engineering, prototyping and manufacturing services from Inertia Engineering

         Microsoft – Microsoft BizSpark, Microsoft Azure cloud services ($9,000 value)

         Access to UrTech’s Hardware Accelerator, UrStart ($3,000 value)

         Access to co-working space, meeting rooms and more from SpaceBar ($5,000 value)

“This was a fun and exciting hackathon that showcased the talent and creativity of The Peel Region’s own tech entrepreneurs. We hope that this becomes an annual celebration of creative entrepreneurial ideas to continue on with the support of our many partners across the Region”, said Ignacio Mongrell, Strategic Relations & Innovations Manager at ICUBE UTM.

ICUBE UTM was delighted to partner with the RIC Centre and Arrow to present hackABILITY, which was made possible by the valuable contributions from event sponsors including Inertia Engineering, Microsoft, beta.engineering.com, UrTech, Spacebar, Sheridan CAMDT, and Bereskin & Parr, as well as the expertise of the judging panel: Laura Dottori-Attanasio (CIBC), Barry Munro (Canadian Spinal Research Organization), Rob Buren (NBT Mentors), and Andrew Yoshioka (Sanbonki Inc.).


Want More Entrepreneurship?
On January 18, 2018 ICUBE UTM is hosting PITCH – an entrepreneurship showcase to celebrate some of the brightest entrepreneurs at UofT Mississauga where teams will be pitching for a piece of $10K in cash prizes!  Free registration and info available here.

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