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

Technology & Aging, New Horizons for Telecare

Fall Conference-Symposium season is upon us once more and in our Sept.16 post, Technology & Aging in Place: Emergent. Innovative. Viable.  we highlighted two in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area, one presented by the Sheridan Centre for Elder Research (October 27) and the other by Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA) (November 24/25).

Another major national event is in Montreal this year, the Canadian Association on Gerontology (CAG) 45th Anniversary Conference (October 20-22). Our Planet Longevity colleague Suzanne Cook presented at this annual conference in 2014 on the subject of Inter-generational Learning. Being selective on what events to invest in this year was made simple by a mere matter of geography and so Suzanne, Sandra, Mary Ellen and myself will be attending the NIA conference in Toronto.

However, upon reviewing the content and speakers at the Montreal CAG conference, it is worth highlighting one speaker in particular as it touches on a subject of great interest that matches the knowledge base of a number of us on the Planet Longevity panel.

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Sue Yeandle, Professor of Sociology, University of Sheffield in the UK, will be speaking on the topic – Connecting People and Systems: What Role for Technology in Caring & Ageing Well in Later Life? Once again, we cannot ignore the emerging role of technology as evidenced by so much of the content presented at the other events we have featured in previous posts.

If you dig further, it becomes obvious that Yeandle is a strong leader in the area of caregiving in public policy not only with a UK focus, but also at an international level. One of the other organizations she was involved with in the UK is Aktive Project, which is Advancing Knowledge of Telecare for Independence & Vitality. You can get an initial sense of how inspiring this is by watching the short video link on the home page. It demonstrates how well this brings collaborative research right down to practice in the community.

On all counts, this kind of initiative and others we can find like it will be worth following and supporting in the years to come. In Canada for one example, there is The Caregiver Network. An excellent website includes this blog post – How Technology is Changing Aging by Stephanie Erickson, which ties in with this overall theme.

One of my business advisory relationships is with Dr. Adolfo Cotter at Cognimetrix, and one of his practice areas in the US is in the delivery of telemedicine, which is a growing field and with some momentum, hopefully, telecare will soon become the companion service that will ultimately become mainstream. One thing to keep in mind when you research this area, and that is that there are variations on what telecare means and how it is presented as a service to the public.

More on Sue Yeandle and her work in future posts, but in the short run here is an article she wrote in August 2016 – Caring for our carers for the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK. While she draws attention here to the fact that the UK, a leader in the “international carers’ movement”, has in recent years fallen behind others countries such as Canada and Australia, Yeandle calls for the UK to “retake the lead”.

Retake indeed. Perhaps the Aktive Project could retake its position, as the only disappointing thing I see is that there hasn’t been any active content development or communication on their website or Twitter feed in the past two years. This is often what happens when the good intensions of group networks slip off the radar as individual people get on to other things.

Still, Sue Yeandle leads the charge with an international focus and is working on a new book due out in 2018, currently titled Making Caring Matter: the mobilization of carers and its impact on policy making around the world. Wouldn’t it be timely if she were to appear at the International Federation on Ageing conference in Toronto in August 2018? If so, sign me up.

 

Mark Venning