A global innovation challenge for the improvement of wellbeing in aging populations was announced today by a group of industry, academic and government partners affiliated with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Council to Address Aging. The In Good Company: The 2018 Optimal Aging Challenge seeks to develop breakthrough technologies, community resources and solutions that reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults.
Despite the advent of lightning-speed technological connectivity, 29 percent of older adults are socially isolated, and both isolation and loneliness are known to have adverse consequences on individual and community health. Research from the American Psychological Association suggests that the loneliness epidemic now represents a threat to public health rivaling that of obesity.
“Led by our Council to Address Aging, Massachusetts is thinking differently about aging and we are proud to be one of the few states in the country certified by AARP for our commitment to become more ‘age-friendly, ’” said Governor Baker. “The In Good Company Challenge is a great opportunity to improve the lives of older adults. We look forward to seeing what this challenge will develop so that Massachusetts can help ensure that those who grew up, raised families and built our communities, can continue to contribute their energy, experience and talents toward making Massachusetts a great place.”
Competition Sponsors of the In Good Company: The 2018 Optimal Aging Challenge include GE Healthcare, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab and Benchmark Senior Living, in collaboration with three members of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Workgroup. Challenge awards are being funded by the MIT AgeLab and Benchmark Senior Living. Challenge administration is being delivered by GE GENIUSLINK.
“The Governor’s aging initiative, coupled with this challenge, is both an opportunity to improve the lives of older adults in Massachusetts and an unprecedented call to create a new economic engine of innovation in the Commonwealth driven by a world that is living longer and wanting to live better,” said Joseph Coughlin, PhD, Director of MIT AgeLab.
Representatives from the Competition Sponsors and the Governor’s Council on Aging will serve as judges for the Challenge and are looking for proposals across four key pillars:
• Transportation services;
• Elder care housing solutions; and
• Employment and volunteerism opportunities among older populations.
Judges will evaluate entries based upon, but not limited to, their prospective applicable market size, accessibility across diverse populations and commercial viability. Up to four of the most promising entries will receive an initial cash prize of $5,000 USD each, and may have an opportunity to participate in public and private endeavors with prize sponsors and their partner entities to develop their solution such that it can better serve the older population and their networks.
“There’s a perception that our aging communities have been underserved by advances in technology, as well as innovations in business models, service models, and beyond; with this initiative we hope to start redressing that imbalance,” said Ger Brophy, Head of Cell Therapy, Life Sciences at GE Healthcare. “There is deep interest in the transformational ideas and creativity this challenge will inspire,” stated Tom Grape, Chairman and CEO of Benchmark Senior Living. “When implemented, these ideas will connect the older adults we respect and love to what’s meaningful and possible at every stage of their lives.”
To participate, submit an entry by September 28, 2018 at 5pm ET. Judges will evaluate submissions throughout October and November and announce winners in December 2018.
Subject to Official Rules. Must submit at least one Entry by no later than 5pm EST on Sept 28, 2018 to be eligible. Must be 18 years of age or older to participate. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Up to 4 cash awards (USD $5,000 total each). Winning depends on Entrant’s skills in meeting judging criteria. Sponsors reserve right to limit or not award all prizes depending on quality of Entries received.
About Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Governor Baker (mass.gov) launched the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts in 2017 to support the Commonwealth’s desire to become the most age-friendly state for people of all ages. The Council’s mission is to address current practices that support healthy aging, improve public awareness of and access to services for older adults and caregivers, and leverage innovation and technology to support aging in communities. To learn more about the Council, visit its website.
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare (gehealthcare.com) is the $19 billion healthcare business of GE (NYSE: GE). As a leading provider of medical imaging, monitoring, biomanufacturing, and cell and gene therapy technologies, GE Healthcare enables precision health in diagnostics, therapeutics and monitoring through intelligent devices, data analytics, applications and services. With over 100 years of experience in the healthcare industry and more than 50,000 employees globally, the company helps improve outcomes more efficiently for patients, healthcare providers, researchers and life sciences companies around the world.
About THE MIT AgeLab
The MIT AgeLab (agelab.mit.edu) is a multidisciplinary research program that works with business, government, and NGOs to improve the quality of life of older people and those who care for them. The AgeLab applies consumer-centered systems thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity and emerging generational lifestyles to catalyze innovation across business markets.
Benchmark (benchmarkseniorliving.com) is a leading provider of senior living services in the Northeast with assets under management valued at nearly $2.5 billion. Founded in 1997 by Tom Grape, a charter member of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, Benchmark employs 6,200 associates and operates 56 senior living communities in seven states. In 2018, Benchmark was certified as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute and became the first senior living organization and only the fifth Massachusetts-based company to receive Certified Age Friendly Employer (CAFE) designation from RetirementJobs.com. It has been recognized as a top workplace by The Boston Globe for 10 consecutive years as well as by the Boston Business Journal, Connecticut Post, Hartford Business Journal and Hartford Courant.
About GE GENIUSLINK™
GENIUSLINK (ge-geniuslink.com) is GE’s Expert Operating System - leveraging gig economy methodology to connect business priorities with experts and solutions for outsized performance. GENIUSLINK engages millions of brilliant minds to provide customers with new approaches to increase speed and agility without increasing operational complexity. GENIUSLINK is part of GE’s Global Operations organization.
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2. AARP. (2017, Aug 8). Social Isolation Looms Large as More Adults Live Alone.