15 November 2021

Driving impact for persons with disabilities – Impact transfer

Zero Project

The Essl Foundation, a charitable foundation from Austria, launched the Zero Project in 2011. Since then, the project has identified more than 700 good practices of inclusion of persons with disabilities based on innovation, impact, and scalability. These practices have been analysed, communicated, and connected to policymakers and other important stakeholders worldwide, with the goal of improving the legal framework and lives of persons with disabilities. In doing so, the project contributes in a transparent and measurable way to the implementation of the UN CRPD.

The Zero Project has built a unique methodology and network with which it engages at all stages to identify and use good practices to create a substantial impact in inclusive education, inclusive employment, accessibility, independent living, and political participation.

In essence, the Zero Project is based on a unique research method that has been co-created together with the Zero Project network of over 10,000 experts. This method is based on a collaborative cross-sectoral platform approach and focuses on the sharing and communication of Innovative Practices and Policies that excel and stand out for their impact, their innovation, and their ability to scale and replicate.

Zero Project Impact Transfer Program

In 2017 the Essl Foundation, Fundación Descúbreme and Ashoka joined forces to initiate an accelerator programme named “Impact Transfer for those good practices that have the highest potential to be replicated across borders. The aim of this was to support the internationalisation of innovative disability solutions for a barrier-free world. From the hundreds of nominations for Zero Project Awards, ten initiatives are selected each year for the Zero Project Impact Transfer Program.

Over the course of the programme, the selected initiatives receive training, mentoring, tailored support, networking, and visibility to further replicate their innovation and impact in other geographies in collaboration with local replication partners. The goal is to make these initiatives ready for replication, to connect them with relevant replication partners, and to further support the replication through our Alumni Community.

In the last 5 years the Impact Transfer programme has analysed, chosen, and collaborated with 41 projects all around the globe. Great examples include: the financing of Greta & Starks, an app to make cinema screenings more accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments, together with Joachim Schoss; Access Israel’s & Manzil’s (UAE) partnership to better the lives of persons with disabilities, which arose out of the Zero Project Conference in 2020; and the successful implementation of a mobile phone-based information sharing service called “Enable Vaani”, which provides recorded messages including information about education, employment, social opportunities, and more.

The innovation and commitment of these extraordinary projects are the reasons for the success and further development of the programme. We truly believe in the potential of endeavours that work for a more inclusive and fair society.

The Zero Project Impact Transfer seeks to identify practices that do not only have inclusion at their core but are grounded in an innovative idea that could and should be replicated in other parts of the world to spread knowledge and share effective strategies of social inclusions for persons with disabilities.


Michael Fembek
Director, Zero Project
Ernst Ferdinand Starhemberg
Project Assistant, Zero Project