Ending your days peacefully in a home for the elderly turned out to be an ideal life choice? Two years of COVID has certainly convinced many people not to and that it is best to live independently at home as much as possible. This is an incredible root for the technology sector, which sees the next great vector of growth in this desire expressed on a global scale.
Fall detection through AI, psychotherapy in virtual reality, financial arrangements for a longer-than-expected retirement… Everything is on the table – and sometimes even further down. Urine tests for home to get into the toilet bowl is also a part of this picture…
In 2023, we can say that the connected home will be multigenerational or not. Those who find their car has too many sensors will be floored when they see all the sensors we want to install in our seniors’ homes in the coming years. The industry understood the need for an entire population to stay as far away as possible from seniors’ homes and other residences for people past retirement age.
Everywhere on the planet, the average age of the population is increasing. By 2050, the number of people aged 60 or over on Earth will double, with 2.1 billion heads — mostly silver, as the number of octogenarians will triple to 426 million. , calculated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
All these people have a strong desire for extended autonomy. They represent an attractive client for tomorrow’s technologies.
We now have a name for this movement: “agetech”. Technologies of the Golden Age. The business potential is huge and easy to say: the exponential increase in healthcare costs can be slowed down with a smart mix of electronic gadgets, software and artificial intelligence.
The Golden Age… of Technology
Golden age technologies live up to their name, twice instead of once. Some will actually sell for the price of gold. Because issues related to aging affect all wallets: of the government and of businesses and individuals.
These technologies are more than gadgets: telemedicine, personal finance, training, recruitment and… metaverse. On the medical side, we see promising virtual reality applications to help combat isolation or reduce the effects of certain mental illnesses.
Aware of these changes, the federal departments of Health and Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced last month an investment of 47 million in a pan-Canadian network of companies and research centers led by two specialized consortia , MEDTEQ+ and Age-Well.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in announcing the investment that he wants Canadians to age at home as long as possible. “They need quality care. Projects like MEDTEQ+ are using technology to help Canadians age at home. They also improve the quality of health services offered to our aging population through health data and digital health applications. »
Regardless of what the minister says, Canada is lagging behind this technological trend. But it suits local entrepreneurs, who hope to create an ecosystem of specialized businesses here.
Pascale Audette, Lyne Landry and Alan MacIntosh are three investment and technology veterans who set up the AgeTech Capital investment fund in Montreal this summer. Their goal: to raise US$250 million (about C$330 million) to support companies in the beginning of their commercial growth, in the form of Series A investments, as they say in the jargon.
“Seniors are becoming the largest demographic group in Canada, and they are also the most underserved by technology,” said Alan MacIntosh. “There is also post-pandemic momentum towards these technologies,” added Pascale Audette. “It’s a good business opportunity, because we’ve been talking about aging for a long time, but there haven’t been large funds like ours in Canada to stimulate growth. »
There are already at least 140 companies in this sector in Canada, including about 40 in Quebec, AgeTech Capital said. They touch on everything from solutions for living longer independently, to support for health care providers, to the wellness and financial aspects of an active life that is often longer than expected.
The venture capital sector is depressed in the current economic context, but remains very attracted to agetechs, assures Lyne Landry. “It fits the “S” of the ESG criteria [environnement, société, gouvernance]and that is of great interest to major institutions,” he said.
Population aging is starting to seriously worry the entire planet. In particular, the WHO fears that, if nothing is done, injuries suffered by people aged 65 and over will soon cost the global economy $320 billion annually.
Not surprisingly, preventing accidents like falls has suddenly become a priority for many start-ups. The Belgian manufacturer Nobi is one of them. At the beginning of January, he showed off a connected living room lamp equipped with cameras that track the movements of people in the room. If a body falls to the ground, then a voice asks if to call for help.
Sensors detect irregular breathing that indicates a heart problem. Others are testing more than 300 health indicators in urine, right from the toilet bowl at home. The key to the success of these gadgets: intervene as soon as possible to save lives.
“An elderly person enters the hospital every 11 seconds after an accident. An elderly person dies every 19 minutes related to such a fall. This risk only increases with age”, summarized the co-founder of Nobi, Roland Pilgrims. Its connected lamp won’t come cheap, however: equipping an “average” home will cost either $3,000 or $160 per month. This is no ordinary IKEA lamp…
As they say, health is priceless… But living old and healthy is worth gold!