The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit on Wednesday brought together big names in venture capital and health care for an event that captured more innovative ideas, cutting-edge technology and overall excitement than any event with the name “boomer” would suggest.
While most of its customers are, well, old, this tech sector is brand new in many Silicon Valley circles. It’s a largely unexplored area of technology, and one brimming with opportunities to enrich the lives of millions of Americans — and make a fortune doing it.
One startup, Resido Medical, won a healthy chunk of change at the Boomer Venture Summit that will help the company continue designing a new wearable medical device for patients who suffer hand and wrist tremors. The device is still in clinical trial phases, but investors at the summit believed in the product enough to name it the winner of the $10,000 grand prize in the business plan competition. The money goes to continued research and development.
“Resido Medical is solving a real need that will impact the lives of millions of people with tremor,” said Mary Furlong, whose consulting firm organizes the annual summit and business plan competition.
About 20 million people suffer from tremors, and the condition is particularly pervasive among the elderly.
Kate Rosenbluth, a biodesign innovation fellow at Stanford University, co-founded Resido Medical after studying patients at Stanford Hospital suffering from tremors. She discovered therapies for these patients can be ineffective and the drugs often have side effects so severe they outweigh any benefits. Resido’s devices are worn around the patient’s arm and have far fewer side effects.
The boomer summit, now in its 10th year, at Santa Clara University was jam-packed with investors, entrepreneurs and companies creating technology to help the elderly age more comfortably, seniors live more independently longer and with a richer quality of life, and ease the burden and the worry that caregivers carry with them. We’re talking about a 19-year-old venture capitalist throwing money into the arena, big companies like Comcast and United Healthcare making new technology to serve their elderly customers, big-name Silicon Valley investment groups like Institutional Venture Partners and many more all working to find solutions to help people live better as they age.
Just take a look at the business plans that lost to Resido Medical in the competition — ChemoPatch, a patch that provides automated drug delivery at a low cost for chemotherapy; OpenPlacement, which offers web tools and real-time vacancy information to match patients with nursing homes and care providers; and QMedic, a smart medical alert device that monitors physical activity, sleep and falls and sends alerts to family members if something is awry.
Until recently, most of Silicon Valley has ignored the elderly.Valley entrepreneurs and developers tend to be in their 20s, and many have focused only on building smartphone apps and Internet services that make life more convenient for consumers the same age. Technology for your grandma really isn’t as sexy.
But it’s getting hotter. Realizing the opportunity to serve a boomer market that spends about $2.5 trillion each year, the tech industry is starting to pay attention. By 2030, about 20 percent of the country will be age 65 and older. In the next two decades, an additional 53 million people will pass the age of 50.
Said Jody Holtzman of AARP, the interest group for people over 50: “In Washington, addressing the needs of 100 million people is called an unaffordable cost. In Silicon Valley, for entrepreneurs, addressing the needs of 100 million people is called an opportunity.”
Photo courtesy Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit/ Mary Furlong & Associates:
Mary Furlong (right) and Gigi Kubursi of First Republic Bank (left) present the $10,000 check to Kate Rosenbluth, co-founder of Resido Medical and winnder of the Boomer Business Plan Competition. Resido Medical has developed a wearable medical device to treat tremors. The treatment is still in clinic trials.