Rohan Silva is obsessed with social mobility and why certain groups are so under-represented in the technology industry.
He co-founded Second Home, a coworking space looking to bring together disparate civic-minded, cultural, creative and commercial entrepreneurs at sites in Lisbon, London and (now) Los Angeles, and he has spent years examining how gender, race and class impact access to technology as a now-reformed politician. Throughout that work though, one area that he says he overlooked was accessibility and entrepreneurship focused on people with disabilities.
“At Second Home, we pride ourselves on having a diverse community. I can count on one hand the number of founders with disabilities we have in our community, so there is definitely something going profoundly wrong,” Silva says.
Enlisting the help of the European venture capital fund Atomico, Silva has set up a micro-investment fund of £100,000 to tackle the problem.
“It’s a large amount compared to what I have and a small amount compared to most venture capital funds,” he explains. “The much bigger prize here is the ability to fund technologies that have the opportunities to improve the lives of people with disabilities.”
Silva isn’t alone. Organizations like Not Impossible Labs, a Los Angeles-based company, and startups like OrCam Technologies, eSight, B-Temia, Kinova Robotics, Open Bionics, Voiceitt and Whill are harnessing technology to bring solutions to people with disabilities across the world.