A woman presenting at a tech summit, with a backdrop reading 'FUTURE LAB' and 'TECH SUMMIT'. Attendees are in the foreground, some listening, others on their devices. The banners are purple with white stripes and text.

The 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit, which is made possible by Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, is a 4-day event that took place from Oct 2 – 6 in San Diego. It includes insightful panels, keynote speakers, robust debates, networking opportunities, and group workshops. And it was all geared towards one aim – celebrating and expanding the burgeoning Disability Tech landscape.

The theme for the 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit was ‘Liminal – exploring the space between the world as it knows it and the world as it could be, in disability tech and innovation.’ Within this we explored the space between:

  1. Design and innovation – How to prioritise access alongside innovation.
  2. Need and Market – Changing the narrative from charity/compliance to opportunity/market growth.
  3. Human and Environment – Shifting the burden from disabled people to advocate, to be included in a rapidly changing innovation economy.

Now for the highlights…the question is where do we begin? The Summit was teeming with brilliant moments some of which are listed below!

1. Exploring Disability, Youth & Employment

Before the Summit kicked-off we joined our friends at ATscale, hosted by UNOPS for a 1-day ideation workshop. We joined an incredible group of individuals to explore how to leverage AI-enhanced assistive tech (AT) to dismantle barriers experienced by young adults with disabilities in low-and-middle income countries. Later in the week the insights of this conversation were shared with our Tech Summit guests in a panel conversation.

A conference room with attendees seated around a U-shaped table layout, facing a screen displaying 'ATscale, a global partnership for assistive technology' with a backdrop of sunlit windows and elegant chandeliers.
A group of individuals sitting in chairs presenting a panel on stage, one person is holding a microphone.

2. Incredible Speakers Tackling The Hard Questions

What we love about the Summit is that we don’t shy away from asking ourselves hard, provoking questions about our sector and challenging ourselves to think bigger and bolder.

We had a huge range of guests join us to tackle various topics including the future of AI, equitable access to AT in low-middle-income countries, the constraints of funding models, the dangers of averages in inclusive design-thinking, risks of hustle culture and more. Below are some of our favourite quotes:

Headshot of Fernando Botelho

“If you want to do something bold, really bold, you’re going to have to redesign everything. You’re going to have to rethink the way you work with labor unions, improve training, redesign the production line. Both the equipment and the process itself. Because it’s just too ambitious for you to get it done without rethinking everything about the way you do it.”

Fernando Botelho, Assistive Technology Programme Specialist At UNICEF
Headshot of Jutta Treviranus

“We need to upend the hierarchy of compromise because what happens is that the people at the margins are told to be happy with the pittance of change that we provide and people at the margins, such as people with disabilities, have less room to compromise because they feel greater constraints. It is the people with the most power, attention and resources that are most able to compromise.”

Jutta Treviranus, Director Of The Inclusive Design Research Centre.
Headshot of Charli Skinner

“We adopt this ever familiar hustle approach and that disabled people are really forced into. We exist in this world that isn’t made for us. So we create our own Suburbans, our own tools, our own systems and our own coping mechanisms so both brilliantly and ironically, those are often the sweet spot of where innovation is arising.”

Charli Skinner, Co-Founder Of SODA
Headshot of Moaz Hamid

“We realized that there is a $146 billion impact in our economy because we are not employing people with disability today. We are not creating the opportunity for them, and we prefer to just give them a voucher and not offer any job.”

Moaz Hamid, Founder And Managing Partner Of Mvmt Ventures
Headshot of Diego Mariscal

“Oftentimes, particularly in the entrepreneurship space, when we think about disability, we talk about it being the source of innovation, creativity, resiliency, which all that is true. But the challenge that I want to pose to you today is that that image oftentimes is too rosy. It’s too one-sided because disability also encompasses oftentimes medical appointments, unsupported family structures, accommodations that are not received…Failing to recognize the complexity of disability puts us at risk of not supporting people in the holistic experience that they need.”

Diego Mariscal, CEO And Chief Disabled Person Of 2Gether-International
Headshot of Elizabeth Chandler

“The future cannot be built upon the past. We’ve had a past that has not considered accessibility and inclusivity as part of what we’ve got the foundation of what we’re working with and trying to build off of in future innovations.”

Elizabeth Chandler, Founder Of The Good Robot

3. Launch Of World-First Disability Tech Report

Two women present at a tech summit with a screen highlighting 'Disability Innovation' and 'Inclusive Design' themes, alongside imagery of accessibility, reflecting the event's focus on inclusion and innovation.

Last year, Remarkable joined the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative’s inaugural class, which is a groundbreaking alliance launched by SmartJob and Enable Ventures. We were excited to see the impact of this initiative taking shape with the public release of the world-first report looking at the Disability Innovation Ecosystem at our Tech Summit!

Developed in partnership with Village Capital, JPMorgan Chase & Co., this report analyses the global landscape for disability innovation hubs and organisations propelling the next wave of inclusive tech startups. We had Elizabeth Nguyen from Village Capital, and Gina Kline from Smart Job share some of the key insights of the report at the summit!

Headshot of Elizabeth Ngyuen

“Overall, the moral case of inclusion and disability and accessibility is becoming the business case. It’s a market size that is just too big to avoid.”

Elizabeth Nguyen, Village Capital


3. The Inaugural Solly Rodan Award

We hosted a Startup Showcase with some of our amazing #RA23 startups including Hominid X,  Springrose,  Possibility Neurotechnologies, SpineX Inc. ,  XR Navigation and Aurie.

As part of this showcase our audience voted for their favourite pitch and we were thrilled to award the first-ever $20,000 Solly Rodan Award to Nicole Cuervo, Founder of Springrose!

A group of individuals smiling and holding a large purple check and sign
A presenter stands on stage at a tech event, with a screen behind announcing 'XR Navigation Presents: The world's first fully accessible digital map.' The setting is modern with a focus on technology.
Two people on stage presenting a startup pitch. Behind them is a large screen with their presentation.
A diverse group of individuals on stage smiling for a group photo.

4. Blueprint For The Future

Each day included group discussions designed to create nine guiding principles for our guests to feel empowered to move forward with clarity on how to best grow the Disability Tech space. Below are a few of our favourite principles that we established together:

  1. Innovation is not an end in and of itself. In order to make AT accessible we need to focus on innovation in distribution systems AS MUCH as specific new technology.
  2. Technology needs to be designed with the most diverse input from the outset and work to ensure continuous interoperability.
  3. Move from a marketplace that suggests products based on diagnosis to one where users choose products based on their specific needs, encouraging individualization and adaptability.
  4. The AT ecosystem should have standards, norms, and facilitators that drive scalability and sustainability to bring products and services to markets quickly, efficiently, and equitably.
A young man stands while speaking into a microphone in a conference room setting. He is dressed in a smart blue blazer and patterned shirt. In the foreground, a diverse audience of men and women sit at round tables, some are listening intently, while others seem deep in thought. The room has a classic conference layout with a chandelier overhead, adding a formal atmosphere to the event.
A young woman presenting on a stage in front of a large screen that says ‘Tech Summit: Future Lab’’

What Are The Next Steps?

Well, we will carry the brilliance, energy and insights from this year onwards so that we can reflect on what we’ve achieved as a community at our next Summit and will focus on these three key next steps:

  1. Investment – Off the back of the Disability Innovation Report we will be seeking investment into the Moonshot Initiative and the Disability Tech sector at large.
  2. Guiding principles – As a community we will collectively use our guiding principles to influence how we pave the future of the Disability Tech sector globally.
  3. Tap into the outliers – We will challenge ourselves to constantly check that we are using the learnings and knowledge of minorities, outliers and just as importantly our mistakes to create truly inclusive innovative solutions.

We’re excitedly seeking collaborators, champions, and partners to join us in this journey! Stay in touch by contacting us at hello@remarkable.org. Here’s to the wonders of the future!

Access Transcript


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