Verizon launches a new startup accelerator to help close the disability divide
Verizon, the U.S.’ largest cellphone provider, is known for providing superior wireless coverage that covers 70 percent of the United States. But not many people know about the company’s investment in technology startups. For example, Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015 and Yahoo two years later for $4.5 billion. In May, Verizon decided to sell Yahoo (including TechCrunch) and other media assets to private equity firm Apollo for $5 billion.
In addition, the wireless giant also has its own accelerator program called The Verizon Forward for Good Accelerator that provides investments for promising startups in the United States. The program is part of Citizen Verizon, an initiative for a business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement to help move the world forward for everyone.
The Verizon Forward for Good Accelerator program was launched in April with Alley as a new startup accelerator program for innovators using leading-edge technology (5G, MEC, AI, XR), supported by a host of mentors and partners.
Today, just ahead of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, Verizon is challenging startups to empower their employees to utilize emerging tech to drive change for persons with disabilities. Over 16 weeks, technology startups will receive funding, working sessions with experts, hands-on mentorship, and the opportunity to create with the community they are building for.
Applications are now open to startups building technology solutions for the disability community. Areas of opportunity include, but are not limited to, the following: IoT Home Solutions, Real-Time Navigation, Future Workspaces, Telemedicine, and Online Education.
Other areas include Augmented & Virtual Reality, Haptics & Tactile Internet, Gaming, Entertainment, and Autonomous Vehicles.
Now through Nov. 1st, the 16-week program seeks applicants who truly “design with, not for,” placing an emphasis on startups founded by people with disabilities, have authentically integrated people with disabilities into executive leadership roles, and have validated their technology solutions within the disability community.
Perks include $50,000 in funding to scale their technology solution as well as tailored mentorship with industry experts and Verizon’s product team. While the first cohort focused on the urgent challenge of climate change, we’re excited to announce that the second iteration of this program will now focus around Disability Innovation, to help scale technology solutions that will empower individuals with disabilities to live more independent lives and/or remove barriers for those with disabilities.
The deadline for the application is November 1st. Interested startups and founders in the disability innovation application can apply here.