Enterprise-ready startups, check out LIFT Labs’ new LIFToff challenge

Plus, Comcast NBCUniversal's $100 million commitment to racial justice.

LIFT Labs' home in the Comcast Technology Center. (Photo by Paige Gross)

Americans with disabilities are less likely to use the internet or own a computer, tablet or smartphone. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the isolation many people feel.

Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs’ newest program is looking to solve for some of those issues: The LIFToff challenge seek to work with startups creating user-friendly tech and adaptive communication to keep individuals with disabilities and their caregivers connected and informed.

Danielle Cohn, VP of startup engagement and head of LIFT Labs, said LIFToff is new within the LIFT Labs Startup Engagement program.

“This is focused on helping more enterprise-ready startups to try proofs of concept that can help solve a specific business challenge,” she said via email. “It’s a new addition to LIFT Labs’ community programming and accelerators.”

Selected startups have the change to enter a commercial agreement with Comcast as they develop an accelerated proof of concept, and receive access to mentorship, testing environments and relevant data sets.

“It’s not an investment, but a customer relationship,” Cohn said. “We’d paid them for the pilot.”

Businesses interested in participating in LIFToff can apply online or email questions to The deadline is Wednesday, June 17.

LIFT Labs also runs an annual accelerator that in 2019 featured 11 companies selected from hundreds of applications from 46 countries. The 2020 cohort, for which applications closed in May, will begin on Sept. 8 and include startups focused on future of work, connectivity and digital experiences.

More recently, in response to protests after the killing of George Floyd have raised awareness for racial equality and against police brutality, Comcast and other companies across industries have made donations to organizations advocating for social change.

As part of Comcast’s commitment, $75 million in cash and $25 million in media will be distributed over three years to organizations supporting underrepresented communities.

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said that the plan will focus on five key areas: social justice, employees, awareness and education, digital equity, and small business opportunity, including via its venture capital arm Comcast Ventures, its accelerators and its Catalyst program, which invests in Black, Latinx and women entrepreneurs.

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Comcast

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