exist Now more Americans age 65 and older more than at any other point in history and that number is expected to rise, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). With longer lifespans come challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease One in nine Americans age 65 or older has it.
the a2 pilot awards Created to encourage the development of technology for the elderly. Funded by NIA to the tune of $40 million over the next five years, the first group of 33 projects selected for funding was announced today. The majority use artificial intelligence or machine learning technology, with women leading 40%.
Stephen Liu, managing director of the a2 Collective, which oversees the awards, told TechCrunch he hopes it will encourage more tech entrepreneurs to get into agritech.
“It is a highly indisputable, growing, future-proof market that will have unprecedented opportunities driven by AI,” he said, adding, “We have two big trends, AI and aging demographics, and it is irrefutable that there is a large, growing and huge market.” And a future-proofer to focus on.”
a2 Collective includes three Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratives (AITC) that the projects will work with. The AITCs are based at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Most of the 33 pilot projects address cognitive decline, but some also address impairment, comorbidities, delirium, palliative care, social isolation, and visual impairment. They will receive a total of $5 million, and projects selected for funding will receive up to $200,000 in zero-equity grants to cover direct costs over one year.
Nearly half of the first prize applications came from private companies, while others were from academic research projects. Many collaborations also between the private sector and academia. The A2 Collective reached out to startups, academic institutions, accelerator programs, and healthcare-focused venture capital firms to find applicants.
“In this particular program, we definitely have an eye toward commercial use, or some kind of commercialization of the project,” Liu said. “Ideally, you want to see an impact where it will be used by someone, whether that’s a doctor or an older American or a caregiver or a nurse, in the next several years.”
Some examples of selected projects include Autotune mewhich uses music to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Bestie boot It uses RGB-D depth cameras and thermal computer vision to conduct monitoring examinations and telehealth for patients. And Well happy Conversational AI is used to perform health assessments and detect signs of cognitive impairment and dementia for people in their own homes.
In addition to AITCs, a2 Collective’s partnerships also include healthcare systems, clinicians, researchers, venture capitalists, and public health organizations focused on agricultural technology and aged care.
Each AITC decides which projects get funding, and also gives them access to gerontologists, geriatricians, Alzheimer’s specialists, and other experts. The idea, Liu said, is to give each venture the same kind of guidance and mentorship as startups in accelerator programs.
A second a2 Pilot Award is already in the works, with the next batch of finalists selected. It will be announced in the spring. a2 Collective will also be accepting applications for the third competition from May 1st to July 31st.
Liu told TechCrunch that he expects to see a significant increase in agricultural technology.
“As the cost of computing decreases and the capabilities of our AI model rise, I think we can expect a Cambrian explosion of new technologies that will dramatically help older Americans, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, live longer and better lives and perhaps even help us beleaguered by the health care system,” He said. We are in its infancy.”