What Incubators and Venture Capital Offer for the Future of the Disability Economy (Part III)

What Incubators and Venture Capital Offer for the Future of the Disability Economy (Part III)

What Incubators and Venture Capital Offer for the Future of the Disability Economy (Part III)

In the past Mindset matters columns, there has been discussion about the need for venture capital, private equity and incubators within the disability space. This isn’t a column specifically about that, but rather the influence these institutions are having in shaping the growing disability economy while bridging the gap to the larger economic ecosystem so that disability becomes not just an important vertical, but a valued asset of growth. To truly appreciate the prominence these institutions will have in helping shape the disability economy for the future, it’s critical to examine the past to have a level of context. We need look no further than that of the Medici family, who became known as a major influence on the growth of the Italian Renaissance through their patronage of the arts and humanism. It was this support that helped some of the great artists of the time, such as Botticelli and Michelangelo, to produce some of their best works. Giovanni di Averardo de Medici, the first member of the family to surround himself with art and lend support, was credited with saying that “a foolish man lives for himself. A wise man lives with purpose.” It is this type of purpose that is an essential ingredient for today’s organizations seeking to gain a foothold in shaping the future of the disability economy.The responsibility of leadership within the current incarnation of incubators and venture capital engaged in this burgeoning ecosystem , is to see themselves in many ways as the Medici family, one who will play many roles in helping articulate the growth of the nascent disability economy.From benefactor, to sponsor, to teacher, and ultimately guide, there must be a framework that leaders in this space can follow to live with purpose and create a future where the landscape delivers both social and financial impact.

We see examples of this kind of leadership demonstrated in this burgeoning ecosystem where purpose responsibility becomes the primary driver for innovation. It is here where we can envision not just an end to the exclusion of people with disabilities, but rather see a humanistic endeavor where we can engage in deeper collaboration between users, innovators, entrepreneurs and capital. +N inclusive innovation network is one such example of how this kind of leadership is put into practice. +N is a global community of accelerators, innovators and investors committed to seeing technology as a vehicle for entrepreneurship and bridging the gap between people with disabilities. Like the Medici family, this is a family of allies that includes an ever-growing group of partners from around the world, comprising Remarkable Tech in Australia, AssitTech in India and The Global Center of Possibilities in New Zealand, which are under others are redefining how we think about the value of the disability economy as we envision its impact in the larger society.

One of Silicon Valley’s maxims has always been about changing the world, but now we find ourselves at a time when that motto must be united with the disability rights claim “Nothing about us, without us” to introduce a new philosophy of behavior. create the world of private equity to drive inclusive change, recognizing that these are not mutually exclusive from economic gain. In fact, with the rise of ESG and impact investing, we are seeing a turnaround, but it is time for more companies to recognize the potential opportunities ahead.

One of the prime examples of this in recent days has been the emergence of Enable Ventures, part of the newly formed Sorenson Impact Asset Management. Enable Ventures, co-founded by Regina “Gina” Kline, a former senior advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Justice, has seen firsthand the need to solve problems and recognized the power of the disabled community as a key to the future of economic growth. By seeing Enable Ventures invest at the intersection of innovation and disability in key areas from upskilling, retraining and the future of work to next-gen assistive technologies and founders with disabilities, this organization provides another example of the proof-of-work concept that the disability economy is evolving and can be recognized as an essential part of the larger business ecosystem.

As the disability economy continues to evolve, private equity and venture capital finance professionals need to recognize that embracing a new mindset is a path to greater economic opportunity and a bridge to making the disability economy a true business development value.