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AGE-WELL’s $21.9 million funding extension supports technology-driven aging research

May 12, 2020
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Funding of $21.9 million has been announced for a three-year extension of AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life)— and comes at a critical time, according to AGE-WELL Co-Scientific Director Andrew Sixsmith, a professor in Simon Fraser University’s Department of Gerontology.

The funding, from the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, will enable researchers and stakeholders to continue efforts to address the ongoing needs and challenges of an aging population, through technology-based solutions that support older adults and caregivers, while creating social and economic impact.

AGE-WELL was created in 2015 with a mandate to support research and innovation in the area of technology and aging. Its aim is to help older Canadians maintain their independence, health and quality of life through technology-based solutions that increase their safety and security, support their independent living, and enhance their social participation.

Securing funding to addresses these challenges comes at a crucial time as seniors face the brunt of a global pandemic.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the ‘AgeTech’ sector, which is now being recognized as a really important area of research and innovation, addressing issues of social isolation, keeping people connected at a time of disconnection, supporting health, independence, financial wellness and employment,” says Sixsmith. “AGE-WELL is bringing everyone together and propelling forward Canada’s AgeTech sector."

“What we’ve seen with the COVID-19 situation is that older people are increasingly adopting and using technology, which they may not have done before but there’s still a very significant digital divide,” Sixsmith says. “How to help people stay connected as they age and become full participants in the digital economy is one of AGE-WELL’s key areas of focus.”

AGE-WELL’s stakeholders have identified eight ‘challenge areas’ in which to drive innovation in coming years, including supportive homes and communities, health care and health service delivery, autonomy and independence, cognitive health and dementia, mobility and transportation, healthy lifestyles and wellness, staying connected, and financial wellness and employment.

AGE-WELL involves nearly 400 industry, government and non-profit partners with 42 member universities and research centres across Canada. As well, nearly 5,000 older adults and caregivers are collaborating with researchers in the development of innovative approaches to ensure that products addressing aging challenges are practical and useful.

AGE-WELL has funded more than 30 startups over the last five years that are commercializing products to help older adults and supported 126 research teams developing a wide array of products, including smart-home sensors, remote therapies and communication systems designed to improve quality of life for older Canadians and caregivers.

For example, AGE-WELL recently supported the development of a messaging platform called FamliNet designed for seniors who have little or no computer experience to help them stay in touch with family and friends.

For more details on today’s announcement see: https://agewell-nce.ca/archives/10158