Aging 2.0 Global Start-Up Search: 2017 Winner.

In follow up to last month’s post, the winner of the April 7th Global Start Up Search for the Toronto Chapter of Aging 2.0 – a local pitch event that awards an entrepreneur for the best “aging-focused start-up” was a company called Steadiwear. Their pitch was for their lead product, the Steadiglove. Under the category of wearbles, this lightweight, battery-free stabilizing glove helps reduce body tremors, as they say –intelligently.

steadigloveA wonderful Canadian innovation success story in the aging and technology space, but how interesting that this is the second product that addresses body tremor issues, to win an award within a week of each other. At the 2017 Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge pitch day finals on March 30th the first place winner was TAME – which stands for Tremor Acquisition & Minimization. TAME’s tech-based wearable products are a wristband (for tremor diagnosis) and a sleeve (tremor diagnosis and suppression).

Obviously, there is a market need for these products, as evidenced by the statistics quoted in the TAME website Vimeo: over 280 million people around the world suffer from tremors, which states Steadiwear includes people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

Here are some of the other aging and longevity issues that all the global pitch products, from today and tomorrow, aim at solving:

  • adaptable, accessible housing
  • mobility, in home and in transit
  • social isolation and loneliness
  • cognitive impairment, dementia
  • stress of managing caregiving

Long may these pitch events continue, as they continue to push forward technology based innovation in support of the future promise of aging well in a longevity society. At the end of May, Aging 2.0 holds its European Summit in Belgium, with two more such events over the summer in the Americas and Asia-pacific regions, will lead to the big finale in November at the Aging 2.0 Optimize event in San Francisco.

What should be the big hope come true is that eventually these pitch products land on the retail shelf before too long for everyone’s sake, caregivers included. While Aging 2.0 and organizations of its kind have similar goals – “to improve the lives of older adults”, it is not just for those who are older now, but for the older adults of tomorrow. Besides, it is not simply a matter of what age you are, but rather (as my father often said) – it is age in combination with what condition you are in that matters.


Mark Venning

Aging 2.0 Global Start-Up Search: Following a Winner.

For a second year now, on Friday April 7th, the Toronto Chapter of Aging 2.0 is holding its Global Start Up Search, a local pitch event that will award an entrepreneur for the best “aging-focused start-up”. This pitch event in the only Canadian city in the Aging 2.0 Network is one link in the chain of a very active, well- connected and funded market for aging and technology. All of their regional pitch events will lead to the big finale in November at the Aging 2.0 Optimize event in San Francisco.

Toronto-Aging 2.0Last year the winner was Winterlight Labs for their development of a tech-based solution that “monitors cognitive health through speech recognition”. Often you wonder how successful some of these tech start-ups are over the long term, and it is good to see how Winterlight, as an example, has matured over the last two years, out of their research work in 2015 on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, to the contest phase to the funding phase.

Following a winner, as of January 2017, Winterlight has just received a first portion of $500K in seed funding from a life sciences investment company, Novatio Ventures. But the innovation extended family trail doesn’t end there as Winterlight will also be joining Johnson & Johnson’s JLABS in Toronto, another science based innovation centre.

All of this news is another indication of how big this marriage of science and technology is becoming, in what I like to call the emerging aging & longevity market. Of course, all of this innovation and joint venturing in this particular category gets largely lost in the wider sweeping dialogue about Canada’s 2017 “Innovation Economy” drive.

However, that is why I keep following this space in the market and present it in as many ways as possible, including this Planet Longevity blog. We do need to celebrate the start-up winners who prove their own longevity.  This year there are six start-ups featured in the Toronto pitch event.

Let’s see who comes out on top, but after poking around their stories (at least as told in their web narratives), the one story that appealed to me the most is ACEAGE. There are two angles to this tech device: the first that schedules medication and provides a component for caregiver monitoring, and the second that facilitates data collection for clinical trials. Welcome to another aid instrument in the age of telecare and telemedicine.

Can’t hardly wait for this news while another major contest is in its final stage – the Stanford Center on Longevity: Design Challenge. Maybe there is something in the April air to come – Spring Innovation Fever!


Mark Venning

Making a Business Pitch for Aging. Right here in Toronto!

Who says aging isn’t a business opportunity? Not the folks at Aging 2.0.

PrintOn Tuesday evening May 24th the Toronto Chapter of Aging 2.0 is holding its Global Start Up Search, a local pitch event that will award an entrepreneur in what they call the aging focused business category. Other chapters are holding pitch events in Berlin May 23rd and further in places like Barcelona, Beijing, London, Phoenix and Baltimore. These and others over the summer will lead to the finals in the Aging 2.0 Optimize conference in October 2016.

If you look at some of the emerging businesses in this category, you will see how obviously rooted the product development is in new technologies. For example take Winterlight Labs that has built technology which “in the dead of night…can quickly and accurately detect cognitive impairment from a sample of speech”. Poking around the links to start-up participants in other Aging 2.0 global event sites it becomes abundantly clear that going forward as we age, we are going to be all Apped-up!

Sponsors for this Toronto event include AGEWELL, PointClickCare and Revera – more of an Aging 1.0 company in a hurry. What the connector for all these technology oriented aging focused businesses is that they all pivot off the one core theme of aging and care – home, health, wellness and assisted living devices or services – all positives for opportunities in longevity.

Opportunity knocks.

But what of existing everyday businesses? We are hitting a smarter stride in an era of age aware marketing, though one might argue that some businesses have not reached the intelligence level to adapt their marketing strategies in recognition of undeniable shifts in aging demographics. Some marketing pitches of familiar, traditional product categories have not even reached Aging 1.0 in their efforts.

So many businesses that may not necessarily focus directly on the aging and care theme – are clumsy, stereotyping or patronizing in their attempts to reach a fifty-plus cohort, which itself is really a fifty-year spread. How do you target market better with that in mind? And what do you do if you sell food, clothing, vacations, banking services or deck chairs?

As I’ve recommended countless times, where to start to educate yourself in this endeavour if you are a business, is with the primer in reading, the 2013 – Kim Walker & Dick Stroud’s, Marketing to the Ageing Consumer.

And if you are a small business 1.0 or 2.0 in the Greater Toronto Area, looking to climb out from under the rocks and connect with others in aging focused businesses, join the Sheridan College, Centre for Elder Research Business of Aging Information Exchange Network (going global soon).

My closing Idea. To encourage improvement in age aware marketing excellence, maybe there should be an awards program for the best in Aging 1.0 Reboot companies (as opposed to Start Ups). I’d love to be the ringleader facilitator for that.


Mark Venning