AGE-WELL will receive $21.9 million to improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers

AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) welcomes today’s announcement that AGE-WELL’s funding has been renewed through the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program to the end of fiscal year 2022-2023.

AGE-WELL will receive $21.9 million over three years—a significant investment that will help Canada respond to the needs and challenges of an aging population through technology-based solutions that enable older adults to maintain their independence, health and quality of life, and support their caregivers.

A poll commissioned by AGE-WELL and conducted by Environics Research last year found that 8 in 10 Canadians over the age of 65 believe technological advancements can help older adults stay safe, in their own homes longer and independent. And, 7 in 10 Canadians over 65 agree that technological advances can help older adults stay active and manage their health better as they age, and can reduce social isolation.

“Technology has a significant role to play in supporting older adults and caregivers in the current challenging times related to COVID-19 and in the future,” said Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Co-Director and CEO of AGE-WELL, Canada’s Technology and Aging Network. “This vital funding from the Government of Canada will allow AGE-WELL to accelerate the delivery of technology-based solutions that support older Canadians and caregivers, and to continue to build a thriving AgeTech sector in Canada.”

In five short years, the pan-Canadian AGE-WELL network has grown from an initial 80 partners to include almost 400 industry, government and non-profit partners. AGE-WELL has 42 member universities and research centres across Canada. Over 4,700 older adults and caregivers are involved to ensure that products are practical and useful.

To date, AGE-WELL has supported 126 research teams at work on more than 100 technologies, services, policies and practices. From smart-home sensors to remote therapies and communication systems, the goal is to increase safety and security, support independent living, and enhance social participation. Some products are already on the market and making a difference in people’s lives.

AGE-WELL is transforming the culture of research in the field of technology and aging. The “AGE-WELL way” of doing research brings together different disciplines to solve real-world problems, and focuses on the co-creation of technologies with older adults and caregivers. AGE-WELL teams also apply themselves to privacy, ethical and regulatory issues.

In its second phase, AGE-WELL will continue to fund strong, solution-driven science and will drive innovation across eight Challenge Areas designed to “move the dial” when it comes to supporting older adults and caregivers in Canada—and achieving social and economic impact. AGE-WELL will place an even greater focus on innovative startups. It currently supports 36 Canadian startups that are commercializing products, generating jobs and creating wealth. AGE-WELL’s unique training program which includes more than 750 trainees will continue to prepare the next generation of leaders in the sector.

“The next phase of AGE-WELL represents a singular opportunity to continue the growth of Canada’s leadership in technology and aging,” said Dr. Mihailidis. “AGE-WELL has succeeded in bringing everyone together to address fragmentation in the AgeTech sector. The renewal funding will allow us to drive the sector forward so that everyone is pulling in the same direction, ensuring the greatest benefits possible for Canadians.”

Mimi Lowi-Young, Chair of AGE-WELL’s Board of Directors, applauded the renewed federal funding for AGE-WELL.

“COVID-19 has underlined the need for technology-based solutions that can help older adults and caregivers, during and after the pandemic,” she said. “AGE-WELL innovations offer ways to keep people connected, to receive care remotely, to be safe at home—these are just a few examples among many.” AGE-WELL startups and network partners are also delivering much-needed technologies and services, she said.

“AGE-WELL has fostered an engaged community of stakeholders and we look forward to working with researchers, trainees, commercial enterprises, community organizations, government, older adults and caregivers in coming years to deliver a strong and sustainable AgeTech sector for Canada,” said Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, AGE-WELL’s Scientific Co-Director.

AGE-WELL is grateful to the many stakeholders who took part in its renewal application process. The network held public consultations in five Canadian cities and engaged over 1,000 stakeholders from different sectors as part of a strategic planning process to define network priorities for 2020 and beyond.