Written by: Youeal Abera, News Team Member

Simon Fraser University Surrey‘s Age-Well Innovation Hub, a newly manifested resource launched by the technology and aging company AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), has received $3.5 million dollars in federal funding.

The hub, which was first revealed to the public at SFU’s Surrey campus on January 17, received the funding from the federal organization, Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Created with the incentive of introducing medical solutions to elders within the province of BC, the Age-Well Innovation Hub’s mission is to “engage a range of stakeholders in a specific location to advance innovation and (the) adoption of technology-based solutions, policies and practices for healthy aging”.

Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, a gerontology professor at SFU and Age-Well’s scientific co-director, stated in a media release by the university that the contributions of the Age-Well Innovation Hub will help both caregivers and those of an older age. In describing the primary geriatric objectives of the hub, Sixsmith stated, “Our aim is to leverage the extensive resources already established in B.C. to spur the development of technologies and services in the digital health sector.”

According to SFU’s media release,  Associate professor of professional practice at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), Sylvain Moreno, will lead the conduction of the Age-Well Innovation Hub. Versed in neuro technologies pertaining to cognitive health solutions and interactive digital medias, Moreno spoke to the impact that the hub aims to have on the residents of B.C.

Moreno articulated, “The Digital Health Circle’s focus on translating knowledge into new technologies is essential for BC to strengthen our research and innovation while growing the health technology sector in B.C. The hub will coalesce these objectives to deliver real impact and improvement to the aging population in B.C”.

In addition to Moreno, the Age-Well Innovation Hub will be comprised of a comprehensive leadership team consisting of several SFU staff. The Hub will incorporate the leadership of Thecla Schiphorst, both SIAT professor and vice-president design and community engagement, as well as Carolyn Sparrey, vice-president research and training and associate professor of SFU’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE).

The medical care of seniors has been a significant topic of discussion for healthcare workers and their patients in BC. An article published by the Globe and Mail presented statistics pertaining to the low rates of service BC seniors receive within residential care facilities. In the article, BC Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie stated “provincial guidelines require 3.36 hours of daily direct care services such as bathing or therapy for each senior but data shows just 15 percent of all facilities met that standard last year.”  

In further discussing the ramifications the Age-Well Innovation Hub will have for the province, Carolyn Sparrey said, “By training the leaders of tomorrow to be prepared to address the challenges of healthy aging, we will develop new talent that meets the demands of B.C. technology companies while driving economic growth”.

Additional information on the Age-Well  National Innovation Hub can be found on their website.

With files from the Globe and Mail, AGE-WELL, and SFU News