Since March 2015, here in Canada, we have had our very own technology and aging network AGE-WELL and they have steadily grown their reputation as a dynamic research and innovation centre dedicated to improving the lives of older adults.
Following AGE-WELL on a regular basis, now with their announcement last week of their National Impact Challenge I am quite excited that their $100,000 award package may give them enough momentum to one-day rival the 5-year legacy of the Design Challenge at the Stanford Center on Longevity.
As I have often said, with all these technology-based innovations being encouraged, (either funded through contests or directly by serious investors which most people are not aware of), it will be interesting to see how many products actually make it to market, and become commonly part of our daily lives. In that sense the baseline criteria for all this should be, (as the Gerontechnology essay by Lim and Newell titled) “User Sensitive Inclusive Design for Technology in Everyday Life”. Quoting a Strategn white paper in their essay:
“…companies experienced 12 product failures for every successful product and these were often caused by inadequate information regarding users’ needs and wants… including understanding of the end users’ personal, social and cultural background”
So one of the cool things about this cross-Canada contest is that, according to the terms laid out, all video submissions that meet eligibility requirements will be posted on the AGE-WELL website for public voting. If so, (not that we will know how end users will have contributed to the actual design process), this is a wonderful breakthrough, as at least everyday people will get a chance to participate and judge, as opposed to those challenge contests only filtered by selected industry or academic panels.
Having said that, these creative design challenges would not get off the ground without financial support and with this AGE-WELL the contest sponsors are Bereskin & Parr, Revera, Sun Life Financial and TELUS Ventures. The window for video submissions is May 15 to June 30, 2018 and participants must demonstrate how their technology solution will positively impact older adult Canadians and/or their caregivers.
Winners of the National Impact Challenge will be announced at the AGE-WELL 2018 Annual Conference in Vancouver, October 16-18, 2018