Recipients of 2021 AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award announced
TORONTO, June 16, 2021 /CNW/ - The newest recipients of the AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award are Dr. Patricia Hewston, co-creator of a dance program for older adults with early memory or mobility problems, and Bryan Hong, co-developer of a smartphone app to improve memory for everyday events.
The AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award supports the development of emerging entrepreneurs to create and grow an innovative startup with potential social and economic impact in Canada. The innovation must address one of AGE-WELL's 8 Challenge Areas to shape the future of technology and aging research in Canada.
The award is designed to give a new entrepreneur the financial resources to focus on making their ideas viable and rapidly deployable in service to older adults and caregivers. This year, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) has provided a cash top-up for both recipients, bringing the total value of the salary award to $30,000 for each awardee.
Dr. Hewston is an occupational therapist and postdoctoral fellow at the GERAS Centre for Aging Research, a Hamilton Health Sciences Centre affiliated with McMaster University. She is scientific curriculum lead for GERAS DANcng for Cognition & Exercise (DANCE), an evidence-based dance program for older adults looking to improve their mind-body health. GERAS DANCE has been validated with over 500 seniors across 12 YMCA sites in Ontario and is expanding nationally.
"I'm delighted to receive this award because it accelerates the delivery of our virtual GERAS DANCE program, which was designed with rehabilitation and geriatric medicine expertise and can improve the mind, strengthen the body and improve social connection," says Dr. Hewston. "Having this award will help me devote time to growing the innovation, receive training from different experts, and bring the joy of dance to help seniors in our community to reconnect with exercise." All revenues will go back into research, notes Dr. Hewston, a Labarge Postdoctoral Fellow for Mobility in Aging.
Also receiving the AGE-WELL Emerging Entrepreneur Award, Bryan Hong is a PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Toronto. He is one of the developers of HippoCamera, a validated, easy-to-use smartphone-based memory aid. HippoCamera allows users to create and play back personalized multi-media reminiscence cues for real-life events. It is designed to mimic important functions of the hippocampus, a brain region critical to memory that is affected during aging.
"Memory is really what makes us who we are. So being able to grow HippoCamera and help people preserve memories is what drives me," says Hong. "I am excited to receive this award and to learn new skills to help build HippoCamera even more. It will be helpful on the business side to work with mentors and people in the field who have experience developing products to improve older adults' lives. In addition, the funding will support projects like Memory Coach, our novel reminiscence program which provides individuals with training on HippoCamera in settings such as residential living facilities." Hong is co-founder of Dynamic Memory Solutions Incorporated.
"Supporting talented young entrepreneurs is one of the many ways in which AGE-WELL is driving Canada's AgeTech sector – and delivering solutions that benefit older adults and their caregivers," says Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Director and CEO of AGE-WELL, Canada's Technology and Aging Network. "We congratulate this year's outstanding recipients and look forward to supporting them through this salary award, mentorship and training, to maximize the impact of their innovations on the lives of Canadians."
"Emerging entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the innovation space, and advancing their important work is critical to CABHI's mission – to help older adults live better lives wherever they are," says Dr. Allison Sekuler, Managing Director, CABHI, Sandra A. Rotman Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Vice-President of Research, Baycrest. "We're delighted to collaborate with AGE-WELL in supporting such talented award recipients to benefit older adults, people living with dementia, and caregivers across Canada."
AGE-WELL NCE Inc. is Canada's Technology and Aging Network. The pan-Canadian network brings together researchers, older adults, caregivers, partner organizations and future leaders to accelerate the delivery of technology-based solutions that make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians. AGE-WELL researchers are producing technologies, services, policies and practices that improve quality of life for older adults and caregivers, and generate social and economic benefits for Canada. AGE-WELL is funded through the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence program.
SOURCE AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE)