The AgeTech sector is growing fast and the venture capital sector is starting to pay attention; where are the opportunities and risks?
New technology seems to be around every corner you look, from AI speakers to health apps, technology is evolving at an accelerating pace. However, coupled with the predicted ‘silver tsunami’, these two trends are coming together to create a booming AgeTech market. The European Commission expects the AgeTech market to hit $8.5 trillion in Europe alone by 2025 . With the surge of interest in this growing field, investors are tuning in closer than before.
Longevity.Technology talked to Dr Lorraine Morley, lead of AgeTech Accelerator UK at Allia about the increased interest from investors in the AgeTech field.
“My sense is that the interest the UK Government is showing, particularly with the upcoming Healthy Aging Investment Accelerator, where Innovate UK is matching investment from equity investors, has stimulated interest in the UK investment community,” she explains.
The AgeTech Accelerator operates across four countries, the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and has compiled a database of the most exciting AgeTech businesses in Europe. From next year the programme has plans to expand into other geographical territories too.
It is, Morley says, an ‘accelerator on steroids’ which takes a much more hands-on approach in sourcing the best opportunities and businesses. Its activity provides investors with a pipeline of the most attractive AgeTech businesses. It performs market studies looking at where there are gaps or where it might suffer from oversupply; and it helps businesses test and validate their products and help provide a route to market.
“All the components which make an investor happy are there,” she adds. “There’s the know-how, there’s the understanding of the sector and where the opportunities are, and then we can help them (businesses) with routes to market.”
Opportunities in the market
Opportunities can be found across the care spectrum. “Care homes want products that improve efficiencies, reduce costs and free up staff for one-to-one care,” says Morley. “Someone said to us just recently, ‘do you know of any technologies that can help us make beds?’ because this is a time-consuming part of the process.”
Patient monitoring is another popular topic. Care homes are looking at night time devices which can help staff monitor patients while they sleep and issue alerts if there is a problem. Monitoring also has value in the home care and independent living markets, where internet of things (IoT) technologies can monitor people in their homes and issue alerts if they experience an emergency such as a fall.
Morley predicts a cascade effect in which public and private sector providers are already using these technologies in their own supported living properties. As these technologies become more familiar, people will become more comfortable using them in their own homes.
The outlook is good, but obstacles remain, the most serious of which is the issue of interoperability. Multiple systems will need to work together and connect with primary and secondary care services – but making this work is difficult. There are many issues such as data protection and commercial competitiveness, and these are issues market participants will have to solve.
“There’s a care home group that we’re talking to at the moment that’s got 150 homes and they want an end-to-end solution for something where all the products will work together in harmony,” says Morley. “That’s a difficult thing to do because you’ve got all sorts of different needs and desires and motivations, as well as the lack of interoperability between the products themselves.”
AgeTech and Longevity are still nascent sectors, and there will always be challenges to wider adoption, but the opportunity is immense. Big names such as Facebook and Amazon are getting involved and with them comes marketing power. They are creating a market full of innovation and opportunities. Technology is making it possible for people to live longer, healthier and more independent lives. That makes Longevity both a fantastic social and commercial opportunity.