The Future of Elder Care: A Closer Look at the 2015 Modern Aging Singapore Winners
Three teams of entrepreneurs were selected by judges to receive seed funding totaling 125,000 Singapore dollars at the Modern Aging Singapore final pitching event on December 4, 2015. In this blog post, we take a closer look at the winning teams, their experience with Modern Aging, and their plans for the future.
Team Altrue is led by Benjamin Xue, an industrial designer. His teammates include Wang Yue and Ng Wu Chun. The team developed Silver Lining, a sensor that is attached externally to a diaper. The sensor detects and alerts caregivers and families when a diaper needs to be changed, based on data like waste volume. With the sensor, diapers are changed promptly and only when required, which reduces waste and improves response time. Those wearing diapers will experience better comfort and care. “We wish to give voices to the silent sufferers,” said the Altrue team.
Since receiving one of two top seed funding awards, amounting to fifty thousand Singapore dollars, Team Altrue has been working hard to develop its business. The team is focusing on the adult diaper market ,for now, and plans to expand to infant diapers in the future. According to Mr. Xue, participating in Modern Aging was “an eye opening experience” for his whole team. He also noted the benefit of having a dedicated team mentor paired through the program. “Our appointed mentor enlightened us when we were in doubt, bringing us through the different phases of validating our ideas.”
Team Pillpresso is led by Jerome Ng, a physiotherapist. The diverse team includes Jason Feng, an engineering student at NUS; Chong Jia Loon, a medical student at Duke-NUS Medical School; and Emily Low, a civil servant. The team was formed over the many Modern Aging events. From strangers, the four have become a team of entrepreneurs.
Pillpresso aims to simplify the process of taking medications for the elderly. The team developed a machine that sorts and dispenses exact dosages at required times. The machine will help users follow prescribed medication plans correctly and eliminates the hassle of managing dosages on a daily basis. Pharmacists also help ensure the Pillpresso machine is calibrated correctly. Although this product only works with pills or capsules, Pillpresso saves time and effort while protecting users’ health. According to Mr. Ng, a full Pillpresso setting will last about three months, which coincides with a patient’s usual routine visit to the doctor, when the machine can be refilled.
After the conclusion of the program, Mr. Ng commended Modern Aging for helping to bring together like minded individuals with different skill sets. “The vast network and mentoring also helped a great deal,” he added.
Team SoundEye is led by Tan Yeow Kee and includes Eugene Phua and Tran Ahn Dung, all home systems and technology researchers. Team SoundEye recognized that many fall detection systems make false alarms and feel intrusive to users. To address these problems, the team developed a voice activated sensor that responds to calls or shouts, a natural response to a fall. Caregivers outside the home can check if the fall is genuine by viewing a blurred photo or by calling through the sensor unit itself. This sensor is especially helpful when a home user falls and cannot reach a phone. The photo is deliberately blurred to respect the privacy of the user.
Following the Modern Aging win, Team SoundEye has been busy meeting with potential investors. The team is also approaching care institutions and developers to promote the system. The team’s initial strategy is to follow a business to business model. Mr. Tan credits the mentor paired with his team and the business training provided by the program as key contributors to the success of his team. “Fernando Erazo from Philips gave us a lot of advice,” he said. “The online course related to the business model canvas. Learning about the need to validate was new to me. I applied it, and it was very useful!”
Gearing Up for Modern Aging 2016
The final pitching event marked the end of the 2015 Modern Aging Singapore program. Participants can look forward to an expanded schedule of events and plans for Modern Aging Singapore 2016. On January 30, Modern Aging Singapore will host a talk titled, “Older Women, Health, and Lifelong Learning,” by Professor Kalyani Mehta, head of the Gerontology program at SIM University, and Dr. Helen Ko, executive director of Beyond Age. This aging related talk will examine gender issues in aging and promises insights for all participants. To register for this upcoming talk, or for more information, please visit www.meetup.com/Modern-Aging/.