Israel start-ups display disability tech in Australia
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Israel start-ups display disability tech in Australia

With a range of offerings from an online support community to extreme sports, assistive technology firms will meet investors, government officials in Sydney this week

The Israeli startup Paratrek created an augmented wheelchair that allows people with paraplegia to go on hikes as a result of a Tikkun Olam Makers makethon. (Courtesy of Paratrek)
The Israeli startup Paratrek created an augmented wheelchair that allows people with paraplegia to go on hikes as a result of a Tikkun Olam Makers makethon. (Courtesy of Paratrek)

A delegation of Israeli start-ups that are developing technologies to assist people with disabilities will meet Australian and international investors, government officials and organizations at events in Sydney this week.

Among the start-ups participating in the delegation, organized by PresenTense Israel, are Paratrek, a tourist venture that offers treks and extreme sports to people with disabilities through the use of their Paratrekker, an offroad wheelchair with frontal and rear supports; Sesame Enable, a company that has developed a touch-free smartphone — controlled by head movements — for people with disabilities who have limited or no use of their hands; NiNiSpeech, the creator of a digital platform that enables people with speech disorders to take control over their speech in day-to-day life; and yooocan, a global online community for people with disabilities and their families to share stories, buy products and derive inspiration.

PresenTense, led by Sydney-born Guy Spigelman, is a largely volunteer-run community that encourages entrepreneurs to invest resources and technology in socially oriented causes, with the aim to promote both profitability and a social mission. The organization has founded and runs, together with Israel’s Bet Issie Shapiro, A3i, an accelerator that aims to promote assistive technologies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 4, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on September 4, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Australia, which has adopted a scheme to increase its support of people with disabilities and their families, is interested to learn more about innovation in the assistive technology space coming out of Israel, PresenTense said in a statement.

Israel and Australia are also seeking to increase cooperation in the high-tech sector. The two countries signed a bilateral cooperation in R&D and Technical Innovation in April, in which both countries pledged to invest $2 million into joint innovation projects with a focus on cybersecurity, agribusiness and water management.

Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma (Courtesy)
Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma (Courtesy)

“Our objective during this mission is to pack the entire strength of the Israeli start-up nation and our experience as an organization running an assistive technology accelerator, which has resulted in dozens of breakthrough ventures, and create a connection with a country that is interested in improving the life of people with disabilities,” PresenTense’s Spigelman said in a statement.

“The PresenTense delegation to Australia shows that the growing technology collaboration between Australia and Israel has the potential to be good for our society, as well as for our economy,” Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma said in the statement. “Using technology and innovation to improve the lives of people with disabilities is one of the more promising sectors to emerge from high-tech, and PresenTense is a leader in this category. I hope PresenTense’s mission to Australia will build the platform for a thriving and productive partnership.”

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