Accessibility startup AccessNow receives Governor General’s Innovation Award

mayaan ziv

AccessNow, an online platform that crowdsources information on the accessibility of public spaces and venues, such as restaurants and stores, has won a Governor General’s Innovation Award.

Montreal-based Sheertex also won a Governor General’s innovation award this year.

The Governor General’s awards are intended to recognize “outstanding individuals, teams, and organizations.” Founded by Maayan Ziv, AccessNow was nominated for the award by Ingenium, a crown corporation responsible for overseeing national museums related to science and technology.

“Living with muscular dystrophy, [Ziv] channelled her frustration on the lack of accessibility information into motivation and making a difference,” the Governor General’s website states. “Her inspiration was personal; her impact is huge.”

Ziv founded AccessNow in Toronto in 2015. What began as a response to her frustration when trying to navigate inaccessible places, The startup soon grew to become a mission-oriented social startup. AccessNow has received investments from entrepreneurship program Next 36, Ryerson University, as well as the federal government.

AccessNow offers a TripAdvisor-like user experience that collects the opinions and experiences of its users on various public locations. Information on the platform is gathered and presented through a crowdsourced model, with a goal to engage a global community to contribute to a more inclusive and accessible society.

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“I accept this [innovation award] on behalf of our entire community. It’s moments like this that validate our efforts as a movement,” said Ziv. “We are changing the world, one grassroots step at a time.”

Montreal-based Sheertex, which develops pantyhose made from “the world’s strongest polymer,” also won a Governor General’s award. The startup was founded by Katherine Homuth, who has already exited two startups: ShopLocket, a pre-order platform, acquired in 2014 by PCH; and Female Funders, an online education program for female investors, acquired by Highline Beta in 2017.

Other award winners under the innovation category for the Governor General’s awards include: the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment team, Embers Staffing Solutions, Dr. John Borrows’ Reconciliation Through Indigenous Law project, and the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System, developed by Dr. Shaf Keshavjee.

Image source Maayan Ziv via Twitter.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.