SociAbility, a startup business based in Oxford, which is working to provide reliable and accurate accessibility information for disabled people, has been named as one of the four winners of the first Toyota Startup Awards, presented by Toyota Motor Europe (TME) and ISDI Accelerator.
It won through a live pitch competition for eight finalists, hosted in Barcelona this week (25 February), earning a ticket for the Toyota Accelerator Program, which will offer training, mentoring and funding to help develop the project.
The other winners are: ProsFit (Bulgaria), which is developing and commercialising affordable and comfortable prosthetics; Seamless Vision (Israel), a startup designing an urban autonomous navigation robot to help the visually impaired move through urban areas; and Wheeliz (France), a peer-to-peer wheelchair-accessible vehicle rental scheme.
SociAbility empowers disabled people to explore their communities with confidence, ease and peace of mind by collecting and sharing detailed reliable and accurate accessibility information for restaurants, shops, bars and other venues.
Matt Pierri, CEO of SociAbility, said: “It has been such a privilege and pleasure to be involved in the Toyota Startup Awards and to join this wonderful community of entrepreneurs working to empower disabled people in so many ways. We are really excited to partner with Toyota and ISDI to take SociAbility to the next level and to really make a difference to the lives of disabled people everywhere.”
The competition aligns with Toyota’s evolution as a mobility company and its recognition of the potential offered by startups committed to bringing new inclusive mobility ideas to the market. After launching an open call for entries, almost 200 applications were received from 45 countries, focusing on socially inclusive mobility, accessibility and disruptive mobility. The judges selected eight finalists to pitch their ideas at a finals event hosted in Barcelona. More than 3,000 people took part in public voting, after which an expert jury of Toyota and ISDI Accelerator executives chose the winners.
Agustìn Martìn, TME Vice President Connected Technologies, said: “These last two event days have been a true eye-opener. We not only got to know the startups in person, we have also witnessed first-hand how each value proposition brings us a step closer to our ultimate goal of providing Ever Better Mobility for All. I was touched to see how, as a company, we share the same values, passion and desire to contribute to society.”
Nacho De Pinedo, CEO and co-founder of ISDI, commented: “This competition turned into something unexpected. As we were exposed to the most innovative solutions in the fields of Inclusive Mobility, Accessibility and Disruptive Mobility by a group of entrepreneurs who really understand and suffer the pain of physical impairment to move, we understood how technology and great ideas can really give people new freedom.”
Toyota Accelerator program
TME and ISDI Accelerator have together developed the Toyota Accelerator Program, which will offer training, mentoring, funding, as well as the potential to collaborate with TME in the future.
It will run for four months and includes
- Assignment of business mentors for each startup to help grow their business
- Working with specialised mentors, successful entrepreneurs, experienced investors and C-Level executives from big corporations
- An immersive training bootcamp
- An initial investment of €25,000 (approx. £21,000) in equity-free cash
- A demo day to pitch in front of top TME executives and private investors
- Potential collaboration with TME