Thursday, March 23, 2023

Making older, better

Staff Writer | May 18, 2021 1:06 AM

Getting older is often looked upon as a bad thing.

With aging comes increased physical ailments, decreased mental alertness, more financial worries and a rising sense that life has passed you by.

But it shouldn’t be that way, says Nick Smoot, founder & CEO at Innovation Collective in Coeur d’Alene. In fact, as far as Smoot’s concerned, it won’t be that way much longer.

“We believe and we know there are secrets out there that could help change the world,” he said Monday.

Smoot and the Innovation Collective are out to find and unveil those secrets.

Innovation Collective and AARP Innovation Labs are launching the Better Aging Through Technology Pitch Competition, for companies, early-stage startups, and ideas that improve quality of life as we age. 

There are an estimated 55 million people age 65 and over in the U.S. In Idaho, about 600,000 people are age 50 and older. About 20% of Kootenai County's population is made up of those aged 65 or older.

“Focus on anything that makes the aging process better,” Smoot said.

Applications are open through June 10. Six to eight finalists will be chosen to present at the virtual pitch competition on July 1. 

The program works like this: It will connect startups with Innovation Collective’s future of aging partner city of Brooksville, Fla. Innovation Collective Brooksville is a culture-first communitywide incubator which accelerates companies focused on aging and longevity.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Innovation Collective in identifying startups helping to solve today’s biggest challenges impacting the 50-plus,” said Jacqueline Baker, vice president of Startup Programming, AARP Innovation Labs.

AARP Innovation Labs will work with and support the winners to elevate their businesses. The grand prize winner will have a chance to participate in the AARP Innovation Labs’ Grand Pitch Finale in the fall and receive up to $25,000.

The event spotlights some of the best and brightest startups identifying challenges and solving important issues facing older adults. 

Those could be physical, mental, emotional and financial.

“This is a cool opportunity, where our local folks get direct access to ways that could help improve aging,” Smoot said.

He said AARP has 38 million members who don’t have the solutions to aging well, but would like to. He believes the Innovation Collective can be part of providing what they are after.

There are already many products, programs and services designed to assist seniors, but Smoot believes locals can help improve them.

“The best ideas often come from unlikely people and places,” he said.

Applicants will need to apply and submit by June 10. Finalists will be selected June 15, and the competition event will be July 1.


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