Surrey Centre Liberal MP Randeep Sarai, left, and former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt, who is also a patron of Age-Well, at the launch of the Age-Well National Innovation Hub: Digital Health Circle on Thursday, Jan. 17. Sarai announced the $3.5 million in funding on behalf of Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. (Photo: SFU)

Surrey’s new Age-Well hub receives $3.5M in government funding

Hub is meant to drive development of healthy tech solutions to support healthy aging: SFU

A new Age-Well National Innovation Hub at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus has received $3.5 million in government funding.

The hub, which was unveiled on Thursday (Jan. 17), received the funding through Western Economic Diversification Canada, a federal institution that is part of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio. The hub, according to a news release from SFU, was launched by the university and the Age-Well Network of Centres of Excellence, “Canada’s technology and aging network.”

The Age-Well National Innovation Hub: Digital Health Circle “will drive innovation to improve the quality of life for an aging population,” reads the release. It will also “support the creation of new digital health solutions designed to impact current and future generations of seniors.”

Its mission, according to the release, is to help older adults throughout the province and the country “live well with independence, dignity and good health.” The hub is meant to connect “multiple stakeholders” beyond academia, such as government, health authorities, older adults, community groups, companies and not-for-profits.

Andrew Sixsmith, scientific co-ordinator of Age-Well and an SFU gerontology professor, said the hub’s 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.”

“The new ideas that are generated and products created will benefit older people and caregivers right across Canada,” Sixsmith said.

The new hub will be led by Sylvain Moreno, an associate professor of professional practice at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology, who specializes in neuro-technologies related to interactive digital media and brain health solutions.

Moreno said the digital health circle’s focus on translating knowledge into new technologies “is essential” for B.C. to strengthen research and innovation while growing the health technology sector in the province.

“The hub will coalesce these objectives to deliver real impact and improvement to the aging population in B.C.,” Moreno said.

The hub’s leadership team will also include Carolyn Sparrey (VP research and training, and an associate professor in SFU’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering) and Thecla Schiphorst (VP design and community engagement and a School of Interactive Arts and Technology professor).

Age-Well, according to the release, is a pan-Canadian network that brings together researchers, older adults, caregivers, partner organizations and future leaders “to accelerate the delivery of technology-based solutions that make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians.” Age-Well was launched in 2015.

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