Microsoft backs AI startups in Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s accelerator program

Tech company to support startups in Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Remarkable accelerator program

Microsoft Australia will partner with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s Remarkable, with the software vendor announcing it would support two startups through Remarkable’s 16-week accelerator program.

Remarkable, previously known as Life Labs, is a division of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance that describes its mission as harnessing the “power of technological innovation for driving inclusion of people with disability.”

The startups will receive $35,000 of seed funding in exchange for 5 per cent equity, as well as access to mentoring, masterclasses and pitch coaching. They will also receive space at the Sydney Startup Hub and access to corporate and investor networks, Microsoft said.

The accelerator accepts early-stage startups that have at least an MVP and are disability focused. The program has backed 19 startups across three cohorts, with the participants in the most recent round being Ablefinder, Autism Swim, Loop+ and Encap Neuroscience.

The fourth round will include up to eight companies in total.

“We’ve partnered with Remarkable because their mission of harnessing technology to build physical, social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities aligns perfectly with Microsoft,” said Microsoft Australia’s corporate relations director, David Masters.

“About one in five Australians has a disability and we truly believe AI can empower people with disabilities by providing tools that support independence and productivity.”

“We’re very excited to have Microsoft onboard given they are an industry leader in AI technologies and will be an invaluable partner for startups focusing on AI,” said Remarkable founder Peter Horsley. “With their support, we’re now able to include companies specifically focused on AI in the next cohort, which we believe has so much promise in empowering Australians with disabilities.”

Applications to be part of Remarkable’s next cohort of startups close on 31 January. The accelerator program itself begins in late March.

Separately, Microsoft runs an AI for Good initiative which includes a US$25 million AI for Accessibility grant program. AI for Accessibility offers access to Azure compute credits, as well as grants to cover the cost related to collecting or labelling data, developing models, and other engineering-related work.

AI for Good includes two other programs: AI for Earth, which launched in mid-2017, and AI for Humanitarian Action, which launched in September last year.