CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – Yesterday, seven companies pitched their innovative digital products to promote healthy aging to judges at the finale of the Healthy Aging Sandbox Challenge, a months-long competition run by MeHI, the Mass. eHealth Institute at MassTech. The finale, hosted at Cambridge-based venture firm The Engine, was the culmination of the first Sandbox Challenge, a virtual competition series that connects startups working to address key healthcare challenges with the Massachusetts digital health community, including world-class R&D centers across the state.
After pitching their products to a panel of expert judges, four firms were selected to receive $50,000 awarded by MeHI as part of its work under the MassDigitalHealth Initiative. Through the months-long program, finalists participated in a virtual introduction to the Massachusetts Digital Health Ecosystem, including engagement with key stakeholders and investors, and were matched with one of 12 R&D facilities in the Massachusetts Digital Health Sandbox Network, a group of cutting-edge healthcare facilities. Each of the four winners, highlighted below, will use the $50,000 prize as tuition to work with their R&D Sandbox partner to further scope, test, and validate their products:
- Sandbox Partner: UMass Chan Medical School
- Artifcts is an online and app-based platform that allows members to capture, preserve, and share the history, stories, and memories behind their most cherished objects.
- Sandbox Partner: Brigham Digital Innovation Hub
- Enabled Health is a SaaS platform for hospitals that automates patient mobility at scale via virtual exercise training powered by AI.
- Sandbox Partner: New England Deaconess Association
- MiiCare’s AI Home Care Platform uses an optimized fusion of telehealth devices, remote monitoring technology, acoustic sensing, and an AI-enabled digital therapeutics solution, which provides CBT for many long-term conditions through an in-house Digital Health Coach called Monica.
- Sandbox Partner: The MITRE Corporation
- Onward provides technology-enabled rideshare service for older adults with door-through-door service with a Companion Driver.
“We are thrilled about the talent that was on display today,” said Keely Benson, MeHI Director. “For months, these entrepreneurs have been working side by side with key players and thought leaders in the Massachusetts digital health community to refine their products. We are optimistic about the potential these innovative solutions have to allow older adults to be more independent, healthy, and connected.”
“Massachusetts continues to be a leader in healthcare innovation worldwide,” said Ben Linville-Engler, Chief Investment Strategist at MassTech. “By bringing together health experts, innovators, investors and thought leaders through the Challenge program, MeHI and our partners in the Sandbox network are ensuring that the Commonwealth stays at the forefront of the digital revolution happening in healthcare by identifying innovative tools that can increase the quality of life among a rapidly growing segment of our communities. Our healthcare innovation ecosystem is recognized globally, so we are supporting companies founded right here in Massachusetts and also attracting others from across the U.S.”
Launched in December 2022, the Challenge announced the program finalists in April 2023, kicking off the three month program, engaging with innovators across the MassDigitalHealth community. In addition to the four winners, Moneta Health, Ompractice, REEV, and SecureSeniorConnections, also pitched at the Finale, receiving valuable insights from judges and direct feedback from ecosystem partners that will help shape and advance their healthy-aging product.
The Finale also featured a panel discussion on "The State of Innovation in Aging” moderated by Danielle Duplin, Cofounder and Global Executive Director for Agetech Innovation at AGENCY@CIC, a global program headquartered in Cambridge focused on ‘living long and aging better.’ The panel featured insights from Andy Miller, SVP for Innovation & Product Development at AARP; Steve Walsh, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association; and Deepak Ganesan, Center Director for the Massachusetts AI & Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease.
The MIT AgeLab in Cambridge also demonstrated its AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System) suit, a wearable device that allows researchers to “better understand the physical challenges associated with aging,” a tool featured on PBS documentaries and on the National Geographic program “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth."
"It’s great to see Massachusetts actively leading Agetech initiatives that spark new ideas and create pathways to commercialization" said Danielle D. Duplin, Cofounder and Executive Director for Agetech Innovation at AGENCY@CIC. "By pursuing innovative solutions to common challenges for aging populations, we can help more people live longer and healthier lives."
In addition to the Sandbox Challenge program, MeHI has also provided direct support to innovative Massachusetts startups to work directly with facilities in the Massachusetts Digital Health Ecosystem and has awarded roughly $525,000 to support 14 companies through that effort, boosting digital health firms across the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts established the Digital Health Sandbox Program to boost digital health innovation by connecting growing companies to the cutting-edge test centers that exist across Massachusetts, bolstering the research and development lifecycle, enhancing product development and improving the time to get digital health tools into the global marketplace. The Program is administered by MeHI and is advised by an Independent Steering Committee made up of leading healthcare technology executives in the state.
About the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI)
The mission of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) is to promote Health IT innovation, technology and competitiveness to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of health care across the Commonwealth. MeHI helps to spearhead The Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative, or Mass Digital Health, a comprehensive public-private partnership working to establish Massachusetts as a leading ecosystem for digital health innovation, driving economic impact and improving healthcare costs and quality. Learn more about the initiative at https://massdigitalhealth.org.