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

Aging 2.0 Global Start Up Search – Toronto Winner!

How fortuitous that in our last blog post I mentioned Winterlight Labs – as they turned out to be the award winner of the May 24th Aging 2.0 Global Start Up Search – Toronto edition. Winterlight has developed a technology-based solution that “monitors cognitive health through speech recognition”.

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These four young entrepreneur scientists bring their collaborative insights and expertise with a technology focus to help people who suffer, not only from dementia, but also for those who have other mental or cognitive health issues such as depression, stroke or autism.

For the past five years, there has been steady global development/fusion of technology and science connected to aging and longevity and, in the Greater Toronto market, we have our own players to be proud of in this field, which in large part is an untold story in the public domain.

Back in April 2012, three of us on the Planet Longevity team attended a Business of Aging Summit at the MaRS Discovery District and there met the pioneers at U of T’s TAGLab (Technologies for Aging Gracefully). We also heard Joseph Coughlin of MIT”s AgeLab speak. All of this was a real eye opener to the opportunities emerging in the technology space and how it will unfold in a practical way for a future longevity society.

Since then in 2015, AGE-WELL launched as a technology and aging network and of course US based Aging 2.0, which also endorses the Stanford Center on Longevity: Design Challenge, established its Toronto chapter. The field of aging and assistive technology has a growing list of supporters, promoters and collaborators too long to mention here, but the list includes researchers, educators, developers, business and health care networks and government and not-for profit organizations.

What is compelling about this story is that we are only beginning to see the benefits of these technologies in application today. Can you imagine how more ubiquitous this will all be within the next few years? Not to mention how much more there is to ideate and develop over the next decade; not just with assistive technologies but technologies in biology and genetics that will help improve extended lifetimes. One of Google’s 2013 spin off businesses, Calico is a prime example of this type of venture.

So congratulations to Winterlight Labs. What I would like to see is more of a broad public education campaign where the Business of Aging could perhaps be better relatable if it were to be called the Business of Aging & Longevity. So in the short run, Planet Longevity will use its platform to further endorse this Canadian story which further demonstrates that we are an innovation economy in more meaningful ways for the future of a longevity society.

 

Mark Venning