Notes from Aging 2.0’s Global Innovation Summit


Well, even though the health and life experience for most aging adults hasn’t changed much these past few years (as best I can tell), things certainly are zooming along when it comes to aging, digital health, and other hotbeds of innovative entrepreneurship.

Last week, I attended the first ever Aging 2.0 Global Innovation Summit, and spent much of the day live-tweeting. (See the tweets here, or below.)

Aging 2.0, which was founded in 2012, has grown a lot over the past two years. The founders, Katy Fike (a PhD gerontologist) and Stephen Johnson, have seeded Aging 2.0 chapters around the world, partnered with Stanford to sponsor a design challenge related to cognitive impairment, created a business accelerator related to aging, and now are launching an “early-stage fund focused on aging and long-term care.

I’ve especially admired the way they’ve encouraged entrepreneurs to talk to older adults, and they’ve hosted a number of events in Bay Area residential facilities. They even have a Chief Elder Executive, June Fisher, an 81-year old retired physician and product design lecturer. (This PBS story is nice.)

The Innovation Summit featured mainly entrepreneurs, as well as executives in senior living (who pointed out that they are involved in healthcare because they facilitate a lot of it for their residents).

There were a lot of thought-provoking innovations to consider, and I wish I could find the time to write thoughtfully about them all. It’s also interesting to consider the obstacles and challenges, such as reimbursement issues, a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the challenge of designing for an aging population with diverse & complex needs, and how will we know which products really improve outcomes.

But alas, my time is limited. So I will share what I can, which is my tweetstream from the event. It includes notes from a very interesting talk by Cynthia Breazeal (from MIT’s Personal Robots Group) on how robots can form emotional bonds with people, and even provide supportive coaching (!). You’ll also see a list of the 29 featured start-ups, developing products to help aging adults.

Can you envision using any of these technologies to help older adults, caregivers, and/or front-line clinicians? Let me know which ones you find most promising!


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