In Praise of Hackathons in a Longevity Market.

What do you get when you stir technology, research and innovation with a splash of financial incentive, slices of real-time networking and collaboration, and a shot at recognition – all to the purpose of advancing a healthier, active and resilient aging population?


Two events that caught my eye recently, exemplify this very cocktail endeavour. The first was in my own market area of Greater Toronto, where AGE-WELL hosted an innovation pitch, social meet up titled DementiaHack. In brief, what this was designed to do was generate a cocktail shaker of multiple ideas for improving the lives of people with dementia.

I’m loving the new hybrid vocabulary of these times – it was just another “hackathon”. MABEL (Make A Better Life Every Day), a team that developed a care management system to provide a platform for researchers to gather big data, was awarded the grand prize. Winning the contest isn’t the point really, because the big win is having all those great minds coming together to draw attention to one of this century’s great concerns for aging and longevity.

Social entrepreneurship & today’s cocktail hour

dhack_banner_960x295_1lineIf you dig more into the background of who was sponsoring this collaborative hackathon, you will learn of HackerNest. They are one example model for optimism in our current and future times – social entrepreneurship. I remember being at technology networking events in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s at the start of the dot-com era where everyone was simply sniffing off the fumes of excitement for web technology. But this is where today’s cocktail hour really is – global hackathons. What next?

Well maybe not a hackathon, but another contest. I’ve followed the Stanford Longevity Challenge for three years now (more to come on that for 2016), but I’m always on the lookout for other signs of optimism, where technology is at work in the longevity market. That brings me to the second event recently launched at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA.

The TechSAge Design Competition 2016 contest is organized by the Research Engineering Rehabilitation Center (RERC), and sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The four competition categories are Community mobility, Active lifestyle, Social Connectedness and Health at home – CASH for short. (Can’t resist contest promo acronym play.)

Like the Stanford Challenge prize, we will have to wait until spring to know who the winners of TechSAge are – but this is all good. And what gives even more cause for optimism from these events is that fact that inter-generational participation is driving the movement – exploring the positives for the promise of longevity.

1 comment on “In Praise of Hackathons in a Longevity Market.”

  1. Jill O'DOnnell Reply is the University Of Toronto Technology for Aging Gracefully that integrates aids, systems and experience that support aging through the life course. What is so great is that it is the youth generation who are so keen on developing supportive aids. They “get” that they too will age one day giving them the tools to enjoy life as it is and will be.

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