MeHI’s “Innovations to Support Healthy Aging” Pitch Competition

By Mark Ogilbee posted 02-02-2023 08:51 PM


The Massachusetts Digital Health Sandbox Network administered by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI), an AgeTech Collaborative™ (ATC) testbed, has announced an “Innovations to Support Healthy Aging” pitch competition. The Challenge is designed to find digital health solutions that can help older adults live as well and independently as possible by supporting their physical, mental and social health. 

The Challenge is open to startups nationwide that are developing solutions that improve the lives of older adults and help them remain active, productive, independent and socially connected.  

Up to eight finalists will be selected to participate in the program and will take part in a two-month, virtual Introduction to the Massachusetts Digital Health Ecosystem program. This introduction will include a speaker series featuring prominent voices from across the ecosystem, including venture capitalists, successful digital health innovators, and leading researchers. 

During the program, participants will also be assessed on their testing and validation needs, then matched with members of the Sandbox Network, a group of cutting-edge research and development organizations supporting digital health companies. Participants will work with their Sandbox partners to scope detailed testing and validation projects. 

All participants will have the opportunity to:  

  •      • Connect with key partners in the Massachusetts digital health ecosystem;
  •      • Accelerate the time from R&D to production;
  •      • Work with experts to assess testing needs and scope detailed validation projects;
  •      • Be prepared for investor meetings; and
  •      • Pitch in front of expert judges.

At the end of the Challenge, the finalists will pitch for the chance to win $50,000 to fund concrete research and development projects with their Sandbox partner, with awards to cover the fees at the Sandbox facility. You can find more detailed information at MeHI’s website, including the link to a recent virtual information session on the Challenge. The deadline to apply is February 24, 2023. 

Participation in MeHI’s Sandbox Challenge is not limited to AgeTech Collaborative™ startups — any startup can apply, but ATC companies are uniquely positioned to respond to the challenge. 

In 2021, ATC startup participant Kinto won MeHI’s COVID-19 Recovery Challenge: Innovations to Support Caregivers,” which was focused on finding solutions that provide assistance to family caregivers. 

Kinto is a tech-enabled care coaching service that trains and supports family caregivers of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions, but their solutions are broadly applicable to all caregivers. Kinto’s CEO Joe Chung notes, “COVID disproportionately affected seniors. It was an unprecedented problem, and it was a new burden for caregivers. We were in the right solution space for that.” 

As a result of winning the challenge, Kinto commenced a partnership with MITRE Engenuity, an AgeTech Collaborative™ participant that leverages public-private partnerships and federally funded R&D centers to tackle challenges to the safety, stability and well-being of the public. Kinto selected MITRE as a mentor for their guidance in navigating the Medicaid system. 

“Medicaid was an ideal opportunity for us, but it is complicated, and part of our challenge was to understand which particular state plans would be more amenable to what Kinto is doing. Also, no one at Kinto had much experience in the healthcare space before, so it was helpful to connect with people at MITRE, who built their entire careers in that world.” 

Kinto won the COVID-19 Recovery Challenge, which included an award of $100,000 to fund MITRE’s work with them. Chung describes the result of MITRE’s mentorship: “We achieved everything we were hoping to, and that’s because MITRE was such an awesome partner. We ended up being very successful, creating a significant pilot with a very large regional Medicaid managed services plan. MITRE’s advice and mentorship in helping us navigate that was invaluable.”