Active Season in the ‘Silicon Valley of Aging’

November 5, 2019
Source editors

Have you heard about the major wins that took place between the digital health and healthy aging sectors in Massachusetts? Learn more about the recent international aging conference that took place in Boston, plus two big wins at national aging pitch competitions! 

Massachusetts residents are healthier, more well off, and better educated than than people in other states. It is because of these positive traits that Massachusetts residents are also living longer. According to the most recent 2018 Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data report, over 15 percent of the state’s population is now 65 years old or older. This growing demographic shift presents unique opportunities for the digital health ecosystem. This focus on leveraging innovation and technology to address challenges related to the growing aging population and those that care for them has led to Massachusetts earning the nickname “the Silicon Valley of Aging.” This fall has been particularly busy for collaborations between the healthy aging and digital health spaces in Massachusetts: 

  • Photos from Events Focused on Aging and Digital HealthAGENCY member Sunu beat out nine other finalists to win the grand prize at AARP’s Grand Pitch competition in Washington, D.C. Sunu makes smart wristbands that use echolocation, GPS, and haptic technology to help the visually imparied better navigate their surroundings. The wristbands are critical for older adults who are dealing with isolation due to challenges presented by aging like vision loss. “The stylish wristband also reduces stigma. This means older adults can continue doing the things they love even as they slowly lose their vision,” said Sunu CTO Dr. Fernando Albertorio. Sunu was not the only Massachusetts company to make the final round of the competition. Pong Robotics of Concord and Loro of Boston were also finalists. 

  • Aging 2.0 brought together leaders in the healthy aging sector to collaborate and revolutionize approaches to aging and caregiving at the first annual Revolutionize conference. The event, co-sponsored by the Mass eHealth Institute, featured keynote speeches by Massachusetts leaders such as Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; healthcare thought leaders including former WHO director Dr. Alexandre Kalache; and  leaders in the private and non-profit sectors like Benchmark Senior Living CEO Tom Grape, 2Life Communities CEO Amy Schectman, and CVS Minute Clinic COO Sanjay Pathak. The event included an aging-focused pitch competition that brought global startups to Boston, including Paraglide, a personal repositioning system for wheelchair users that won the inaugural competition.  

  • The City of Boston launched its #AgeStrong campaign against ageism this fall that features city residents as old as 103 decrying common myths and stereotypes about older people. The motivation behind the ad campaign is that ageism is seen as one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination that goes unchallenged. 

  • In their new report “Age-Forward Cities for 2030”, the Milken Institute highlighted several Massachusetts-based projects, including work by UMass-Boston’s Elder Economic Security Index, Beacon Hill Village, the Nesterly home-sharing online platform, and the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority; 

These happenings build on the work being done across Massachusetts to make it an age-friendly state, including the announcement last fall of a grant for AGENCY at CIC, a new “coworking innovation hub” located in Cambridge, Mass., where “entrepreneurs, enterprises, elders, and experts can work side-by-side to explore and apply ideas for aging populations around the globe.” AGENCY, now entering its second year, is home to ten digital health companies focused on the aging and caregiving sector.

Massachusetts is a digital health innovation hub and is using this tech prowess and healthcare leadership to improve how we age, not just in the state, but for citizens around the world.