Was ending your days peacefully in a retirement home ever an ideal life choice? Two years of COVID has certainly convinced many people that living independently at home for as long as possible is best. This is an incredible vein for the tech sector, which sees its next big growth vector in this desire expressed on a global scale.
AI fall detection, virtual reality psychotherapy, financial arrangements for a longer-than-expected retirement… Everything is on the table – and sometimes even under it. This portrait also includes urine tests for slipping into the toilet bowl at home…
In 2023 we can say that the connected home will be intergenerational or not. Anyone who notices too many sensors on their car will jump in the air when they see all the sensors that we want to install in the homes of our elderly in the years to come. The industry has understood the need of an entire population to stay as far away as possible from retirement homes and other housing for people who have passed retirement age.
All over the world the average age of the population is increasing. By 2050, there will be twice as many people on Earth aged 60 and older with 2.1 billion heads – mostly silver, as the number of octogenarians will triple to 426 million, the World Health Organization (WHO) calculates.
All of these people have a strong desire for increased autonomy. They represent a very attractive clientele for the technologies of tomorrow.
We already have a name for this movement: “agetech”. Technologies of the Golden Age. The business potential is huge, and to put it simply, the exponential increase in healthcare costs can be slowed with a clever mix of gadgets, software, and softwareartificial intelligence.
The Golden Age… of Technology
The technologies of the golden age live up to their name, twice rather than once. Some are actually sold at gold prices. Because issues related to aging affect all wallets: government, corporate and individual.
These technologies go well beyond gadgets: telemedicine, personal finance, training, recruitment and… metaverse. On the medical side, we see promising virtual reality applications to combat isolation or minimize the effects of certain mental disorders.
Aware of these innovations, the federal Departments of Health and Innovation, Science and Economic Development last month announced a $47 million investment in a pan-Canadian network of companies and research centers led by two specialized consortia, MEDTEQ+ and Age-Well.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, announcing the investment, said he would like Canadians to age at home for as long as possible. “They need quality care. Projects like MEDTEQ+ use technology to help Canadians age better at home. They also improve the quality of health services offered to our aging population through health data and digital health applications. »
Age Tech Capital
Whatever the minister says, Canada is lagging behind this technological trend. But it suits local businesspeople who hope to create an ecosystem of specialized businesses here.
Pascale Audette, Lyne Landry and Alan MacIntosh are three investment and technology veterans who founded the Montreal-based mutual fund AgeTech Capital this summer. Their goal: to raise $250 million (approximately $330 million CAD) to help companies begin their commercial growth through what is known in the jargon as Series A investments.
“Seniors are emerging as the largest demographic in Canada, and they are also the most technology-underserved,” says Alan MacIntosh. “There is momentum towards these technologies even after the pandemic,” adds Pascale Audette. “It’s a great business opportunity because we’ve talked about aging for a long time, but there haven’t been big funds like ours in Canada to spur growth. »
According to AgeTech Capital, there are already at least 140 companies in this sector in Canada, including about 40 in Quebec. They range from solutions for longer independent living to support for healthcare providers, wellness and the financial aspects of living active longer than expected.
The venture capital sector has been depressed by the current economic context but remains very attracted to Agetechs, Lyne Landry assures. “It fits well into the ‘S’ of ESG criteria [environnement, société, gouvernance]and that is of great interest to the big institutions,” she says.
The aging of the population is beginning to seriously concern the entire planet. In particular, the WHO fears that injuries to people aged 65 and over will soon cost the global economy $320 billion a year if nothing is done.
Unsurprisingly, preventing accidents like falls has suddenly become a priority for many startups. The Belgian manufacturer Nobi is one of them. In early January, he introduced a connected living room lamp equipped with cameras that track the gestures of people in the room. When a body falls to the ground, a voice asks if you should call for help.
Sensors detect irregular breathing, which indicates a heart problem. Others analyze more than 300 health indicators found in urine straight from the toilet bowl at home. The key to the success of these gadgets: intervene as quickly as possible to save lives.
“Every 11 seconds, an elderly person is hospitalized after an accident. Every 19 minutes, an elderly person dies in connection with such a fall. This risk only increases with age,” summarizes Nobi co-founder Roeland Pelgrims. However, the connected lamp will not come cheap: equipping an “average” home will cost either $3,000 or $160 per month. This is no ordinary IKEA lamp…
As the saying goes, health is priceless… But living old and healthy is worth its weight in gold!