​If Dr. Alex Mihailidis could turn back the clock to the early days of his research career, he knows exactly what he'd do if he won several thousand dollars.

"I would use the money to build partnerships that would help turn my ideas into viable and effective products," says the Toronto Rehab Senior Scientist, and Scientific Director of AGE-WELL, Canada's Technology and Aging Network.

"Partnerships with older adults, for example, are proving to be critical in moving new innovations out of the research lab and into the real world. Involving end-users at all stages of the research, development and marketing process helps produce solutions that are more effective and useful to people who will ultimately use them."

Recognizing the urgency we face in supporting this demographic, AGE-WELL is inviting Canadians to take part in the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge – a competition to identify new and unique technology-based solutions that can benefit Canadians as they age.

Contestants will compete for prizes totalling over $100,000 in cash and in-kind services, by showcasing how their solution could positively impact older Canadians or their caregivers.

According to Dr. Mihailidis, this competition is a natural fit for AGE-WELL, which is based at Toronto Rehab.

"With Canada's population rapidly aging, AGE-WELL is always looking for new thinking and new ideas to ensure good health, quality of life and independence as people get older," he says.

"The AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge is a way to reach out widely for solutions that can have a positive impact."

The cash prize associated with the competition is to be used solely for research and development of the submitted idea, its dissemination or commercialization.

"The prize money can be used for various activities, including building prototypes that are more commercial-ready, conducting market analysis to better understand how to move innovations into the marketplace, and helping to cover the costs of activities needed to protect new intellectual property," says Dr. Mihailidis.

"The more important element of the prize package, though, is the support AGE-WELL will provide to move ideas forward, in the areas of business development and knowledge translation."

AGE-WELL is dedicated to creating technologies, services and policies/practices that support healthy aging. More than 70 research projects are currently in progress across Canada, involving researchers, industry, not-for-profit organizations, governments, older adults and caregivers.

To take part in the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge, contestants are asked to submit their idea in video format (not more than five minutes). Video submissions will be accepted until July 27, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Videos meeting competition criteria will be posted on AGE-WELL's website for public voting. The contestant in each of five geographic zones who receives the most votes will be invited to pitch their idea at a finale in Vancouver at the AGE-WELL Annual Conference, taking place Oct. 16-18, 2018.

In addition to the five contestants chosen from the zones, three wild card videos will be selected to participate in the October finale based on three categories: Young Innovator (chosen by AGE-WELL's Education and Training Program Leads), Stakeholder Favourite (chosen by AGE-WELL's Older Adult and Caregiver Advisory Committee), Most Mentioned (video with the most social media activity and mentions).

The competition sponsors are: Bereskin & Parr, CARP, the Impact Centre, Revera, Sun Life Financial and Telus Ventures.

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