It’s refreshing to startup initiatives emerge to solve practical, real-world problems. What could be more practical than innovative technologies to support the aging population?
St. Paul, Minn.-based AgePower.org recently launched a program to support entrepreneurs who are building technologies for the fastest-growing demographic in the United States.
The “AgePower Tech Search” initiative is the brainchild of MOJO Minnesota, a self-described advocacy force working to fuel entrepreneurship in the region, and Ecumen, a non-profit providing housing and other services to 10,000 senior citizens.
Startups submit their product ideas, and a committee, made up of representatives from Ecumen and MOJO Minnesota, will select four companies or technologies to receive a six-month field trial among Ecumen’s network of elderly people, residents, and employees. In addition, these four finalists will gain access to MOJO Minnesota’s network of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
Ecumen and MOJO will take an equity stake, about two or three percent, in return for helping the startups test their products and bring them to market.
AgePower’s team believe that most technology is geared to young and hyper-connected consumers. However, the elderly also have spending power and can benefit from increased access to online tools and services. It’s a huge market opportunity, given that almost one in four people are older than 65 — and that share is expected to approach one in three by 2030.
Eric Schubert, vice president of communications at Ecumen, said the committee is looking for a broad range of ideas that “make the aging experience better.” In an interview, he said this demographic has been “overlooked” by the tech industry.
Schubert is brimming with ideas: “Is there a technology that can help an elderly person live independently? How about helping them maintain social connections? Or improving the rehabilitation experience after a surgery?”
Anyone can apply to the AgePower “Tech Search” until October 31. Read more about the initiative here.