Jun 25, 2020
  • The Novartis Innovation Prize: Assistive Tech for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) was initiated in 2019 as part of a commitment to innovation in Neuroscience to identify and encourage technology ideas from all over the world with the aim to improve mobility, accessibility and daily life for people living with MS
  • Canadian company 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
  • Runner-up receiving USD 50,000 is the start-up Fly Parrots from the United States who developed Polly, a socially assistive robot with an inclusive user-friendly app so people with mobility and communication challenges can connect better with the world
  • 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

Basel, June 25, 2020 — “It is such an honor to be awarded the Novartis Innovation Prize. Accessibility is a critical component of establishing a welcoming and barrier-free world for people with disabilities, including those living with MS,” said Maayan Ziv, Founder and CEO AccessNow. “We have come a long way, but we have so much more to do to achieve equity 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.”

The runner-up is an intelligent plug-and-play device and app called Polly. It empowers people with mobility and communication challenges to be more connected with the world around them through features like safe navigation, 360-computer vision, smart home connectivity and more.

“The Novartis Innovation Prize represents a great opportunity to help the world understand the impact of living with multiple sclerosis, but also to explore how technology and innovation facilitates mobility and fosters connection for the MS community,” said Tim Coetzee, Chief Advocacy, Services, and Research Officer, National MS Society and a prize judge. “It is inspiring to see the patient community, innovators, venture capital, large tech companies, and high impact technology come together and showcase the potential to improve the daily lives of those living with MS or other disabilities.  Sustained collaboration and innovation in these diverse sectors are vital to ensure that the needs of these communities are being met.”

More information about the Novartis Innovation Prize winners and finalists is available at www.wired.com/msinnovationprize.

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. Applications were open to the tech community, innovators, design experts and patient advocates worldwide — anyone with an idea to make everyday life better for those with MS or other mobility-limiting conditions. 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.

About Multiple Sclerosis
MS disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord through inflammation and tissue loss1. MS, which affects approximately 2.3 million people worldwide2, is often characterized into three forms: primary progressive MS (PPMS)3, 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 disability4. Approximately 85% of patients initially present with relapsing forms of MS2.

This media update contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can generally be identified by words such as “potential,” “can,” “will,” “plan,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “look forward,” “believe,” “committed,” “investigational,” “pipeline,” “launch,” or similar terms, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential marketing approvals, new indications or labeling for the investigational or approved products described in this media update, or regarding potential future revenues from such products. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on our current beliefs and expectations regarding future events, and are subject to significant known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. There can be no guarantee that the investigational or approved products described in this media update will be submitted or approved for sale or for any additional indications or labeling in any market, or at any particular time. Nor can there be any guarantee that such products will be commercially successful in the future. In particular, our expectations regarding such products could be affected by, among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, including clinical trial results and additional analysis of existing clinical data; regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; global trends toward health care cost containment, including government, payor and general public pricing and reimbursement pressures and requirements for increased pricing transparency; our ability to obtain or maintain proprietary intellectual property protection; the particular prescribing preferences of physicians and patients; general political, economic and business conditions, including the effects of and efforts to mitigate pandemic diseases such as COVID-19; safety, quality, data integrity or manufacturing issues; potential or actual data security and data privacy breaches, or disruptions of our information technology systems, and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG’s current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Novartis is providing the information in this media update as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this media update as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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

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1.    National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Definition of MS. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Definition-of-MS. Accessed May 2020.
2.    Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. Atlas of MS 2013. Mapping Multiple Sclerosis Around the World. http://www.msif.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Atlas-of-MS.pdf. Accessed May 2020.
3.    MS Society. Types of MS. https://www.mssociety.org.uk/about-ms/types-of-ms. Accessed May 2020.
4.    National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Types-of-MS/Secondary-progressive-MS. Accessed May 2020.

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