A Longevity Economy is, (as Joseph Coughlin underscores in his book by that title from last year), largely a “most misunderstood market”. Even prior to Coughlin’s book, five years ago in 2013, the AARP in collaboration with the consulting organization Oxford Economics laid it all out releasing their first Longevity Economy Report (with mainly USA-specific data) and the most recent 2016 version is now available.
In fact, what you end up with in an attempt to break out and understand the definition of this economy is a plurality of longevity markets. Some are consumer facing business markets more directly recognizable in our day-to-day encounters, and others are less readily obvious to consumers, such as those based in research and innovation investment, which are still very much segments of this whole economy, which will ideally lead to better product or service offerings.
One such longevity market segment in research and innovation is brain health. A prime Canadian example of this, worthy of celebration is the Baycrest – Centre for Aging & Brain Health (CABHI). Two weeks ago, CABHI announced a new investment partnership with the National Bank of Canada to as they say “accelerate innovations for the aging population, from bench to bedside more quickly and efficiently.”
Called the Mentorship, Capital and Continuation Program (MC2) it will provide mentorship and capital to projects already receiving CABHI funding. What is notable in this program is the continuation piece, “to support the innovation beyond pilot tests and evaluations, into operational practice and procurement.” Interesting, because with so much of the activity that I follow in the research and innovation arena of aging and health, it is hard to track and measure how much eventually makes it to practical and common use.
Allow me to digress. On a humorous note this reminds me of a glib comment made by the leader of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) – Dr. Parminder Raina on a symposium panel at the International Federation on Ageing conference in August – titled –The value of health innovation to enable healthy aging. In response to some question around innovation investments, he said (paraphrasing) “Canada is a nation of pilots, with projects that never take off.”
During the same week of their MC2 launch, in coincidence with World Alzheimer’s Day on September 21st, Baycrest announced the opening of its new brain health centre – The Kimel Family Centre for Brain Health and Wellness. Another one of the many initiatives that Baycrest has become internationally well known for, in its culture of innovation integrated with the delivery of direct services to older adults, the Kimel Centre will “serve as a testing ground and demonstration centre for new technologies support by CABHI”.
Baycrest, with its offshoots and collaborative partnerships, is a prime example of an organization that is part of the larger narrative of a longevity economy, signalling opportunity to businesses in longevity market segments, which to an extent can be developed into a list by reading through the definitions of CABHI’s four innovation themes.
The future is already upon us. While a longevity economy may be misunderstood today, it leaves much to be discovered for any forward thinking business or interested citizen to take advantage of – and the sooner the better if you want to be where the aging demographic trends are leading us.