Australian Red Cross innovation program Humanitech Lab has invested in two startups, Kara Technologies and AirSeed Technologies, with both receiving a $500,000 grant to take their ideas to the next level.
Humanitech Lab is a mentoring and investment program harnessing technological innovation to meet critical humanitarian and social issues. It’s backed by the Telstra Foundation.
Kara Technologies is building a more equitable and accessible global communications system for the deaf community. It’s developed digital humans, avatars with high-fidelity faces and emotional expressions, that are easily comprehensible to their audiences. The New Zealand impact startup was part of the Startmate program and 12 months ago raised NZ$1.3 million in a Seed round led by Sydney VC Investible.
Head of Humanitech Katy Southall said Kara received funding to increase access to sign language in preparedness and emergency situations using “digital human” avatars and motion capture technology.
“After piloting this groundbreaking technology alongside Deaf Communities and Australian Red Cross’ Emergency Services team, the funds will bolster efforts to provide emergency preparedness activities in fast and on-demand Auslan (Australian sign language) to ensure the deaf community can access crucial support when it matters most,” she said.
Sydney environmental restoration startup AirSeed Technologies uses drones to plant trees and re-seed barren ground. AirSeed previously raised $437,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in 2020 and has been looking to raise a Series A this year. Telstra is one of AirSeed’s clients and the business is also using its drone tech in South Africa.
Katy Southall said that with funding and support from the Australian Red Cross’Emergency Services team, AirSeed is revegetating land in flood-affected communities.
“This initiative enhances both the climate and psychosocial resilience of communities facing environmental challenges, as the organisation looks to shape the future resilience of disaster affected communities through rapid revegetation in Australia and around the globe,” she said.
Southall said the Humanitech Lab investments underscores the commitment Australian Red Cross has to using innovation to address the most pressing challenges faced by local communities.