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Students innovate, seniors thrive 

AgeTech Innovation Challenge sees Waterloo students build tech solutions for aging population

November 13, 2023

It turns out young adults do have some wisdom to share with older generations.

Students from across the University of Waterloo recently wrapped up Velocity’s AgeTech Innovation Challenge, a 10-day-long event conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI).

70 students in 16 teams showcased their solutions to support aging populations by enhancing older adults’ health and wellness, empowering caregivers, and bolstering the healthcare system.

Tina Wilton, Velocity’s Entrepreneurship Experience Manager, said student-led innovation plays a crucial role in addressing the world’s most significant problems.

“These innovation challenges serve as a springboard for students, introducing them to entrepreneurship and inspiring them to tackle important problems and realize their potential to develop lasting, innovative solutions that can significantly improve the quality of life for the world’s aging population,” said Wilton.

Dr. Allison Sekuler, president and chief scientist at CABHI, said the organization was extremely inspired by the innovative spirit and fresh perspectives of the Waterloo students who took part in the challenge.

“They are not just dreaming of a better future for aging, they’re building it,” said Dr. Sekuler. “CABHI is proud to partner with and support these young visionaries working toward our common goal of all older persons living lives of dignity, purpose, and fulfillment.”

AgeTech Innovation Challenge shows students' passion to solve problems to allow seniors to thrive
PlantPal with judges from Cortex Design, CABHI, startup HiIvy, and Velocity.

Three teams split a $15,000 grand prize: PlantPal, a system designed to detect early dementia; VeinGuard, a wearable armsleeve monitor to detect blood clot formation; and ADAPT, a robot to aid with physiotherapy.

PlantPal team member Mykhailo Brizkalo, a Waterloo computer science graduate student, said the group pivoted from an early prototype that would use voice recognition to alert users when a plant needs watering to address a problem highlighted by the AgeTech challenge.

“We had this device that could ask and process answers, but we thought, ‘How can we use all this data wisely to help seniors?’” Brizkalo said. “With dementia being such a big problem and early detection being so important, that’s how we knew our solution had potential.”

Read full story on Waterloo News.

Sign up to see students pitch live at the Velocity Pitch Competition Finals Nov. 30.