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  • Initiated in late 2019, the Novartis Innovation Prize: Assistive Tech for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) identified and encouraged technology ideas from all over the world with the aim to improve mobility, accessibility and daily life for people living with MS
  • AccessNow receives the first prize worth USD 250,000 for a mobile app and web platform that provides information about the accessibility status for people with disabilities of locations around the world, enabling them to move around with more confidence and ease
  • Over 150 submissions were received for the Innovation Prize, of which ten were chosen as finalists for the judging panel. Finalists included innovative proposals from the US, the UK, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland

DORVAL, QCJune 25, 2020 /CNW/ – Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. (Novartis Canada) is pleased to announce today that AccessNow, a platform that crowdsources information on the accessibility of public spaces and venues, has won the Novartis Innovation Prize for Assistive Tech for MS. AccessNow developed a mobile app and web platform designed to empower people living with MS, as well as millions of others with disabilities, to live more independently. AccessNow provides people with insight and information on the accessibility status of various locations in 34 countries to help navigate the world with greater confidence and ease.

“As a Canadian entrepreneur, it’s an honour to be awarded the Novartis Innovation Prize. Accessibility is a critical component of establishing a welcoming and barrier free world for people with disabilities. MS touches the lives of Canadians at one of the highest rates in the world and this community has acted as an integral voice in our movement,” said Maayan Ziv, Founder and CEO, AccessNow. “AccessNow grew from my personal experience navigating around Toronto and while accessibility has come a long way since then, we know there’s so much more to do to achieve equality and inclusion. At AccessNow we believe technology plays an integral role in achieving this vision and we are so excited for the next step in our journey.”

Mobility issues are often the first significant symptoms of MS and can have a profound impact on mental wellbeing and general quality of daily life for people living with MS. Innovations that improve mobility can help make everyday life more manageable for people living with MS and help keep them connected to their lives and communities, which is part of why beyond-the-pill solutions considered by the Novartis Innovation Prize are so important. 

“Novartis is deeply invested in the MS community, and it is our hope that through this Innovation Prize, we have been able to help reimagine care for people living with MS by encouraging new technologies addressing some of the challenges people with MS face every day,” said Andrea Marazzi, Country Head, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada.

About the Innovation Prize
The Novartis Innovation Prize: Assistive Tech for MS identifies and embraces technology that aims to improve the mobility, accessibility, and activities of daily life for these individuals and others living with mobility-limiting conditions. The Prize aims to spur investment and dialogue across the many needs of people living with MS, and other people living with mobility-limiting conditions. To support pioneering solutions for increased mobility and accessibility, Novartis worked with WIRED Brand Lab, alongside other key collaborators such as Selma Blair, representatives from Sequoia, Airbnb, Whill, Shift.ms, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and people living with MS.

Applications were open to the tech community, innovators, design experts, patient advocates worldwide – anyone with an idea to make everyday life better for those with MS or mobility-limiting disabilities. The Prize judging panel consisted of a wide variety of experts including accessibility leaders, representatives from the MS patient community, investors, and consumer technology experts within the mobility and healthcare space. More information including an overview of the 10 finalists and their innovations can be found at www.wired.com/msinnovationprize/.

Novartis has a strong ongoing commitment to bring innovation to people with MS and will continue to explore innovative initiatives and therapies that improve their lives.

About Multiple Sclerosis 
MS disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord through inflammation and tissue loss. MS affects over 77,000 Canadians – one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. It is often characterized into three forms: primary progressive MS (PPMS) relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), and secondary progressive MS (SPMS), which follows from an initial RRMS course and is characterized by physical and cognitive changes over time, in presence or absence of relapses, leading to a progressive accumulation of neurological disability. Approximately 85% of patients initially present with relapsing forms of MS.

About Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada  
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., a leader in the healthcare field, is committed to the discovery, development and marketing of innovative products to improve the well-being of all Canadians. In 2019, the company invested $51.8 million in research and development in Canada. Located in Dorval, Quebec, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. employs approximately 1500 people in Canada and is an affiliate of Novartis AG, which provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. For further information, please consult www.novartis.ca

About Novartis
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 800 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 109,000 people of more than 145 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Find out more at https://www.novartis.com.

SOURCE: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.