During recent event at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Kendall Square, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded a $100,000 grant providing seed funding for AGENCY, a new coworking innovation hub for collective impact where entrepreneurs, enterprises, elders, and experts can work side-by-side to explore and apply ideas for aging populations around the globe.
AGENCY forms a crossroads where innovators in all sectors with aging and longevity as a lens will be able to meet, host events, engage the healthcare community in Greater Boston, turn their ideas into commercial successes, and grow their companies (http://cic.com/agency).
The new grant was awarded by the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI), a public economic development agency, to the CIC’s Venture Café Global Institute. The grant provides seed funding to help cover AGENCY design and staffing, and coordinate the initial programs. The facility in Kendall Square will act as the headquarters of a network of similar facilities located at CIC’s around the world, making it a draw for international entrepreneurs and cementing the Commonwealth’s role as the hub of innovation when it comes to aging and longevity.
“Our investment in this coworking space supports the work of the Digital Health Initiative to ensure Massachusetts continues to be the leader in advancing technological innovation, economic growth, and better health care opportunities for patients and their caregivers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to continuing our work supporting digital health entrepreneurs and the healthcare community in the Commonwealth.”
“Massachusetts is home to world-class hospitals, medical research institutions and universities that play a vital role in the future of healthcare,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Massachusetts has the ability to continue to attract this growing sector, drive partnership activity, and shape the future of the healthcare industry, especially in the area of aging and longevity.”
AGENCY will be housed in the CIC’s new location at 245 Main Street, Cambridge, in the heart of Kendall Square’s thriving innovation community and across the Charles River from several of the top research hospitals in the world. The new space will include flexible coworking facilities for entrepreneurs in the region’s world-class aging cluster, helping encourage collaboration and partnerships, while also offering a dedicated space for aging-focused programming and networking events. Interested organizations can visit http://cic.com/agency to get involved.
“Industry clusters provide a center of excellence to tackle global problems”, said Tim Rowe, Founder and CEO of the CIC, who also cofounded Lab Central, a wetlab coworking space for biotechs, and MassRobotics for IOT and robotics companies. “We’ve seen stunning outcomes, both creatively and financially, when the density of startups, investors, and experts work together in a collegial environment to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Aging & longevity is a tangible use case to galvanize the innovation community and spark emerging trends. We’re excited to debut AGENCY here in Massachusetts, and expand to CIC’s and Venture Cafe’s worldwide.”
“We’re looking for creative companies that offer vitality and economic viability to individuals, families, care partners, communities, and institutions – at scale,” said Danielle D. Duplin, AGENCY cofounder and Global Launch Director. “Entrepreneurs love solving complex problems with the upside potential to change the world. This is it. The global trend of longer life spans is a clarion call for startups and industry leaders alike to make the aging journey better for all with a nuanced balance between human-centered and tech-enabled solutions. AGENCY is both a place and a community to attract and support entrepreneurs of all ages and disciplines to this work”.
As a founding sponsor, MeHI will represent the Commonwealth on AGENCY’s Board of Advisors for the first two years, helping develop strategy and programs that will bring together public policy leaders, digital health entrepreneurs, and medical researchers from across the state. The Commonwealth will also have access to one coworking seat at AGENCY, allowing leaders from MeHI and the Commonwealth to engage directly with entrepreneurs in the aging and digital health cluster.
“We’re particularly thrilled to have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as our partner from day one, both to learn the opportunities and challenges they see at the systems-level, and to establish an invaluable feedback loop between entrepreneurs and policymakers to expand the flow of information and innovation more broadly,” added Carrie Allen, AGENCY cofounder.
The award continues MeHI’s work in the aging space, building on the Institute’s 2017 survey of family caregivers on the daily challenges they face and their use of digital health technologies, a study designed to provide insights to digital health entrepreneurs interested in developing technology solutions to assist these unpaid caregivers.
“Last April, the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts issued a recommendation that the Commonwealth strive to become the Silicon Valley of aging product and services innovation,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders who co-chairs the Council. “An innovation hub for aging aligns with that vision, and we believe it will act as a catalyst for technologies aimed at improving the quality of life for older people in the Commonwealth and around the world.”
“There is so much energy and opportunity for innovative thinkers and companies to help us all live more empowered, independent and engaged lives as we grow older,” said Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner. “This new initiative reinforces our position as a leader in aging services and products. Our partners at MeHI and CIC deserve our thanks for recognizing the opportunity and for investing in an Age-Friendly future for Massachusetts and beyond.”
MeHI’s grant aligns with the goals of the Massachusetts Digital Health Council and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, two Commonwealth initiatives that are bringing innovative healthcare technology to address the issues faced by aging residents in Massachusetts. The new award also supports the Baker-Polito Administration’s Age-Friendly Massachusetts movement, which aims to make the Commonwealth’s communities “more welcoming and livable for older residents and people of all ages.”
“As the lead state agency for the Governor’s Digital Health Initiative, MeHI has prioritized the growth of the aging and caregiving digital health market by facilitating the collaboration of entrepreneurs and their innovative solutions with healthcare customers through our Mass Digital Health Marketplace program,” said Laurance Stuntz, director of Massachusetts eHealth Institute. “We are excited to partner with AGENCY to bring these parties together in person in a way that is designed to increase cross-functional collaboration and innovation to support all aspects of aging and caregiving.”
The Commonwealth has made several investments related to aging over the past few years, including:
- In July 2018, the Administration partnered on a global innovation challenge sponsored by GE Healthcare called “In Good Company: The 2018 Optimal Aging Challenge,” which looks to identify “breakthrough technologies, community resources and solutions that reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults” in Massachusetts;
- In April 2018, the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts launched the first “Blueprint to Promote Healthy Aging in Massachusetts,” a report developed through input gathered at numerous forums attended by hundreds of Massachusetts residents and expert contributors. The release came at the one year anniversary of the Council, which Governor Baker established when he signed Executive Order 576 in April 2017; and
- The launch of the Blueprint coincided with the Commonwealth’s official membership into AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States, a move announced by the Governor during his 2018 State of the Commonwealth address.
About the Massachusetts eHealth Institute:
MeHI, or the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative the Commonwealth’s entity for healthcare innovation, technology, and competitiveness, and partners with industry, government, and healthcare organizations to support the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative on behalf of Governor Charlie Baker. MeHI also helps all the Commonwealth’s providers harness the benefits of electronic health records and the Mass HIway, the statewide health information exchange. For more information, please visit https://mehi.masstech.org and follow @MassEHealth. Learn more about the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative at www.massdigitalhealth.org.
About the CIC:
Cambridge Innovation Center (www.cic.com) is a leading builder and operator of innovation communities. CIC has approximately 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m2) open and in development, and has served over 5,000 startup and technology companies, including Hubspot, Uber, Pandora, Square, Google/Android, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. Over $7B of venture capital is headquartered within CIC’s buildings, putting it on par with many countries, and at least $10B has been invested in companies that got started at CIC. CIC has built innovation communities in Cambridge, Boston, St. Louis, Miami, Philadelphia and Rotterdam, Netherlands, and has communities under development in many more cities, including Warsaw, Poland and Tokyo, Japan. CIC has won numerous awards, including Boston Magazine’s award for “Best Place to Work”.