Professor Joseph Coughlin
The Innovation SuperNetwork has opened applications for North East businesses and startups developing innovative solutions in the ageing sector to take part in its Ageing Innovation Accelerator programme.
The announcement comes as experts in the field, Professor Joseph F Coughlin, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, AgeLab) and Stephen Johnston (Aging2.0), joined delegates attending the third Ageing Innovation Accelerator workshop in Newcastle.
Speaking about the accelerator, Stephen Johnston, founder of the global ageing innovation network Aging2.0, said: “At Aging2.0 we are tracking eight Grand Challenges facing our ageing populations, and I was excited to see some of the fantastic ideas already in development by the current cohort of businesses and entrepreneurs taking part in the ageing innovation accelerator.
“With applications now open for the full accelerator, I’m looking forward to seeing which ideas are taken forward to commercial realisation and hope to see how they impact positively on society in the not too distant future.”
The event featured a discussion led by Prof Coughlin, who founded MIT’s pioneering AgeLab, on the opportunities arising from the longevity economy to provoke and inspire creative responses to the challenges facing an ageing community.
The accelerator programme is aimed at North East businesses with the potential to develop the solutions to these challenges. It is offering £12,500 of investment from the North East Innovation Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Northstar Ventures. Six months' office space on Newcastle Helix is also being made available courtesy of Newcastle City Council.
Simon Green, CEO of the Innovation SuperNetwork, said: “The North East is leading the way in the ageing space. Not only do we see significant expertise coming out of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, but entrepreneurs are already developing ground-breaking new products and services in the sector. Following an intensive series of workshops to outline some of the challenges and opportunities associated with an ageing society, the accelerator provides a package of support to help budding innovators bring their ideas to market.
“We’ll be working with eight ambitious businesses for six months and by September, we’d like to have eight new products ready for commercialisation or significant further investment.”
The Accelerator is open to any business based in the North East or planning to start up here. The support available includes:
Working with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle City Council, Aging2.0 and Northstar Ventures, the Innovation SuperNetwork kicked-off the challenge-based programme in November at VentureFest North East. Pitches from shortlisted businesses will be heard at the final Accelerator workshop in March.
Stephen Price, Northstar Ventures investment director, said, "The global ageing population and the growing longevity economy presents enormous opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators across multiple industries and markets. We're delighted to be supporting this accelerator programme and helping local entrepreneurs take their first steps in building the innovative products and services that an ageing population demands."
Businesses wishing to apply for the full accelerator should complete and return the online form by Monday 25 February 2019.
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