AgeTech Innovation Week, hosted by AGE-WELL, brought over 750 attendees to the Hilton Toronto on October 23 to 27 for a week of inspiring programming centred around technology and innovation for aging and caregiving. Attendees included researchers, industry leaders, care providers and organizations, government representatives, trainees, older adults, caregivers, and others committed to enhancing lives through technology-based solutions.
The week was built around two anchor events: the AGE-WELL Annual Conference, which featured discussions and presentations from global thought leaders, as well as an impressive showcase of the latest technologies and research in the AgeTech sector; and the inaugural envisAGE Annual Forum, co-hosted by MEDTEQ+ and AGE-WELL, which offered participants a unique chance to explore the commercialization and integration of AgeTech solutions and see startup-driven AgeTech innovation in action.
In all, AgeTech Innovation Week featured nearly 90 speakers, 46 demos and exhibits, more than 40 research presentations and over 120 research posters.
The week opened with the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Aging in Place Challenge program workshop, which gave registered attendees a chance to learn more about the program, network with NRC researchers and key collaborators in AgeTech innovation, and join in discussions on technologies and strategic directions being developed to support aging in place.
First-ever envisAGE annual forum
Day 2 of AgeTech Innovation Week featured the envisAGE Annual Forum, co-hosted by MEDTEQ+ and AGE-WELL. envisAGE is a new pan-Canadian AgeTech initiative. The single-day event opened with an inspiring virtual keynote on the Global AgeTech Ecosystem – and what makes some of the world’s major AgeTech hubs successful – from gerontologist, entrepreneur and author of The AgeTech Revolution, Keren Etkin. There was also a dynamic live presentation on the Future of Aging from Deloitte Canada Health Futurist and Teladoc Health Canada Growth Advisor, Dr. Zayna Khayat who zeroed in on the impact of AgeTech in Canada.
Another highlight of the day was the much anticipated announcement of the first envisAGE Call for Innovations, supporting the commercialization of technologies to help older Canadians maintain a better quality of life, longer, while propelling companies in the AgeTech sector. The Call for Innovations invites Canadian SMEs with a mature technology to apply to take part in collaborative projects that support the integration of innovative solutions in the living environments and care settings of older adults and caregivers, while facilitating opportunities for them to grow and scale their products and services across Canada. Learn more at: https://www.envis-age.ca/en/programs-funding-services-to-help/
Cutting-edge research and innovation
Following an exciting Forum, Day 3 of AgeTech Innovation Week marked the start of the AGE-WELL Annual Conference. The two-day event came packed with engaging panel discussions, workshops, symposia and insightful keynotes from esteemed speakers. Opening the conference, Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Director and CEO of AGE-WELL, said, “This is our largest conference in the history of AGE-WELL, and it speaks to how far AgeTech has come in a few short years.”
Ontario Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, the Honourable Raymond Sung Joon Cho, then took the podium to deliver remarks, recognizing a growing seniors population with diverse needs, and the important work being done within the AGE-WELL Network. “What you are doing is so important,” said Minister Cho.
Conference keynotes were Dr. Tracey Gendron, author of Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It and Chair for the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Gerontology, and Director for the Virginia Center on Aging; and Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Dr. Christina Harrington, a designer and qualitative researcher working at the intersection of interaction design and health and racial equity.
Dr. Gendron delivered a compelling presentation on Disrupting Ageism by deconstructing generational myths, raising awareness of elderhood as a stage of life, and helping people recognize the ageism pervasive within all cultures and settings. Dr. Harrington’s presentation on Considering Design’s Reach for Equitable Information Access Among Marginalized Older Adults dove into a powerful discussion on how thoughtful product design can help support historically excluded groups in maintaining their health, wellness, and autonomy in defining their future.
AGE-WELL’s popular Drinks and Demos reception made a return for 2023, inviting attendees to tour dozens of demos and exhibits showcasing a wide variety of innovative AgeTech solutions, including home sensors, systems to connect people and reduce isolation, virtual reality (VR) technology designed to offer accessible experiences, and much more. There was also an Ecosystem Builder Reception, the next night, hosted by The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) and Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO). At each event, attendees were given the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice – Best Demo. The winners were Root & Seed, for their Conversation Cards that encourage meaningful intergenerational conversations, and caregiVR; a virtual reality (VR) platform designed to facilitate customized engagement in experiences that are no longer easily accessible to frail older adults.
More outstanding work in AgeTech was recognized during the AGE-WELL conference as the recipients of the AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award were announced. This award provides entrepreneurs with the financial resources to focus on making their ideas viable and rapidly deployable in service to older Canadians. The 2023 award recipients are Lianna Genovese, Founder of ImaginAble Solutions and Bronwyn Bridges, CEO and Co-Founder of PragmaClin. This year’s Emerging Entrepreneur Award Program is generously supported by the Yuen Family Foundation.
Honorary Fellow Awards
On Day 4 of AgeTech Innovation Week – the final day of the AGE-WELL Annual Conference – AGE-WELL announced the recipients of the 2023 Honorary Fellow Award. The award recognizes
members who have made long-term and substantial contributions to research and/or innovation in the AgeTech sector, as well as significant contributions to AGE-WELL. This year’s recipients are: Jim Mann, a dedicated advocate for people living with Alzheimer’s who serves on AGE-WELL’s Research Management Committee and multiple other boards including the Advisory Board for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aging; Dr. Lili Liu (Dean, Faculty of Health, University of Waterloo), a long-time AGE-WELL researcher who leads multiple projects, serves as a Challenge Area lead, mentors trainees and contributes to publications; and Dr. Rafik Goubran (Vice-President, Research and International, Carleton University), also a long-time AGE-WELL researcher, founding member of the AGE-WELL national innovation hub SAM3, and a Challenge Area lead.
AgeTech Innovation Week ended on Friday, October 27 when AGE-WELL and the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN) co-hosted a Healthy Aging Canada (HAC) Symposium at CAG2023, the 52nd Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting of the Canadian Association on Gerontology. The HAC Symposium included a workshop on Enabling Healthy Aging: Harnessing Innovation for Lifelong Health and Wellness that featured a thought-provoking keynote address from Dr. John Beard, the Irene Diamond Professor and Director of the International Longevity Center-USA at Columbia University.
AGE-WELL thanks the generous sponsors of AgeTech Innovation Week: the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Ontario Brain Institute; Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation; VHA Home HealthCare (Gold Sponsors); National Research Council of Canada; Osler (Silver Sponsors); Bereskin & Parr; The KITE Research Institute at University Health Network, and Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (Bronze Sponsors), as well as promotional partners: CanAge and YouAreUNLTD.
For more on AgeTech Innovation Week and to view the full program, visit: https://agetechinnovationweek.com/