Lecia Bushak talks with Todd Haim, PhD, the director of the National Institute on Aging’s Office of Strategic Extramural Programs, about the organization’s work on behalf of older Americans, including the Start-Up Challenge, why aging is a DE&I issue and the agency’s ongoing commercialization efforts.

Note: The MM+M Podcast uses speech-recognition software to generate transcripts, which may contain errors. Please use the transcript as a tool but check the corresponding audio before quoting the podcast.

From HLTH 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s the MM+M Podcast.

Hi, I’m Lecia Bushak, senior reporter at MM+M and I’m here at the HLTH 2023 conference in Las Vegas. I’m joined on the podcast by Todd Heim director of The Office of strategic extramural programs at the National Institute on Aging Todd leads training Career Development and small business research programs at the Nia and he’s here with me today to discuss the Naas work on behalf of older Americans and what we might expect from the impending silver tsunami as well as the Nia startup Challenge and accelerator.

Welcome to the podcast Todd.

Thank you so much.

So to start tell me about your health experience so far and what it’s been like being here.

It’s really been great to connect.

Other players in the ecosystem such a great opportunity to bring everybody together so we can think about what are the challenges we’re going to face with the silver. Genomic. How can we address the needs healthwise of older adults and have those meetings and have those discussions in the meaningful way

and you know, you mentioned the silver tsunami. Obviously, we know that the Boomer population, you know this aging there’s gonna be a lot of Aging people in America in the coming years. Can you dig into that a little bit more and explain exactly what it is and what sort of the impact of that on the Healthcare System would be

sure there’s lots of data that shows that the number of older adults in the US and globally is rising at a significant way. I think we also remember that we Define all the adults. We’re not talking about homogeneous population. Think about you know, what is the future of our agent population we’re talking about people of different ages, you know, someone that is 65 70, we’ll have different help me and someone that is 85

1995 we’re thinking about people from different backgrounds the different access to healthcare. So I think when we think about how do we really as a country address the needs a whole new adults we think about in that heterogeneous way and being able to have different solutions for those different parts of the population,

right? And can you talk a little bit about what some of the solutions you’re finding at the NAA and what sort of the work you’re doing around this issue

sure. So we funded a lot in technology for aging and Longevity. So if you think about things like all the detection, for example, we were walking by we saw the Best Buy health food and they have full detection alert system that they now call Lively. Well actually part of the original sensors that are in life the company called bio7 those centers with develop from Nia’s small business funding to biocentics was done licenses.

Spot and now it’s actually benefiting all the adults. There’s lots of other examples like that. If you think about the care coordination space if you think about the monitoring we have companies are working on dressing social isolation, but I’ll do adults. So all these different things are actually getting commercialized and helping all the adults live healthier and improving care which is a big part of what we think about

right and you mentioned the, you know, the small business Investments and that’s a big part of what the Na’s doing with the startup Challenge and accelerator and big core reason why you’re here at health. So, can you talk a little bit about that?

Sure, I love to so about last year. We started the Nia startup Challenge and acceleration and the goal of the startup Challenge and accelerator was to really identify a combination of two things great Innovative Technologies. That really can help improve the health of

Adults match with Founders developing those Technologies. They may not have experience and Entrepreneurship. So when we have a small business funding a lot of times in order to be competitive for that funding the certain things that you’ll have to know like how do you develop that value proposition? You know, how do you really explain the competitive advantage of your technology? If you’re a first time once you may not have all that ready? You might not have the mentors that you need to help you with that. So we thought about this can we put together a program that will provide that education to help explain, you know these different elements of Entrepreneurship. So maybe someone that didn’t go to entrepreneurial business school and still come in and help hold her adults live healthy about alive. And then also as part of that connect them to net worth expand the networks connect them to mentors that can provide that expertise and then at the end we actually provide last year five this year six and I move

A $60,000 cash prize each and the hope of the cash buys that’ll help them collect some more preliminary data so that they can then be competitive but ni small business funding which is through the form of sbir and sttr and allude of Grants.

Greatly. There’s a ton of Health startups here and a lot of entrepreneurs here at the conference. What are you hoping to like connections? You’re hoping to make or what are you hoping to kind of find what you’re here that’ll sort of be involved with that whole initiative.

Sure. Yeah. So what we did with that initiative it’s as I said, it’s a five months accelero entirely virtual with the exception and one day which is a three day in person entrepreneurship. We actually partnered with health and the science center, which is an organization that does entrepreneurial training programs, and we asked them to actually develop this three-day weekend co-located with health the three days before help so Thursday, Friday Saturday.

Like the twenty finalists in our startup Challenge and accelerated. We’re all going through this three-day boot camp. The learnings have been tremendous. If you talk to companies, you’ll hear that they Now understand so much better how they should have those initial conversations with investors. You know, how does see financing work? There’s so many little elements that we haven’t been in the field. You don’t know so providing that Base education and then the one thing that I’ll tell you we love to see the most is how they connect with each other at the end of the day. They actually becoming children’s best network. So having that environment that they can spend together when that three days you can’t result. What we did is we created and I started challenge. So each one of those 20 companies now has a Kia that they meet with investors. They can meet with potential Partners including each other. So one of

Goals of our conferences really to you know be at that Pavilion to work with those startups give them that exposure help build the networks.

And this to meet other companies that are interested in small business funding. So we’ve I can tell you I’ve already talked to Elise 15 companies about potential applications finite small business funding programs been incredibly in our successful and it’s a great place to find so many startups in the mission space that we work on that we can have those active conversations.

Right? So part of the you know reason for being here is also just getting the word out and making sure people are aware of the The Challenge and accelerator so that you know, they can be a part of it someday and you mentioned you know, the ultimate goal is to

Foster these mentorships and connections and for people to sort of, you know dive into this this pathway ultimately to create solutions for you know, the silver tsunami as you mentioned and you touched on a couple earlier you mentioned the isolation issue. What are some other solutions that you you see sort of or hope to see sort of come to fruition that would address this issue.

Yeah, so

I mentioned earlier kind of heterogeneous needs of older adults and I think it’s important to kind of look at the other side that which in order to meet such a diverse set of needs. We need a diverse set of perspectives. So there’s no one solution. There’s no one type of innovative. There’s going to be able to solve this problem. So let me go about the start of challenge we thought about how can we really get the 20 best, you know, pre-speio, please small business Funding Solutions, but in doing that make sure that we have that that burst set of perspectives you the Master’s cohort is as an example. We have to dentists there was doing more prevention for older adults to Dental Solutions this year. We have someone coming sector with AI expertise. So and so many others we have several nurses in this year’s goat some that we have a location space.

One company developing a rehab Mobility device. It doesn’t need a battery the small portable more accessible for older adults. We have companies that are using AI to have you know, better EHR data and insights folder adults. We have so many companies in the care who are Nation space this year. So really there’s so many different things but we can’t just look at a single solution. It’s going to take such a multitude of ideas and perspectives to get us where we need to go

right for more of a holistic approach to kind of as a solution and you mentioned, you know, the importance of diversity and through diverse broad of perspectives here. How is aging a de and I issue would you say?

Yeah, so I think in some ways one there is the diversity of the agent population and that’s an important thing to keep in mind. It is not a single type and they each have different medical needs also different Healthcare experience.

And they trust Healthcare in different ways and they Access Healthcare in different ways. So if we think about longevity we have to think about how can we build things that each of these different types of populations will be able to access and will be comfortable for them to access. So that’s adding one way we see is Dia issue. The other is on the workforce side, you know a lot of our Workforce in the Aging sector you think a lot about caregivers but okay paid caregivers all underrepresented minorities himself. So we need to think about that population. Now we making sure that they get the right, you know access, you know able to succeed themselves as well and help improve our overall care system so many different pieces of Dia that up just kind of embedded into this ecosystem that we now found to find us

absolutely and you know, since we’re live here at Health, you know, you mentioned a few things that you’ll be doing here, but if you were to distill and to maybe three things that you’re planning on doing while you’re here at the conference the next few days

with those main three things be

so one is to continue to work with our startup challenge companies provide them with that expertise. One of the things I’ll tell you I loved over the past day is I had an investor in the agent ecosystem come by and she knew from last year about the startup challenge. Yes about this year and Jessica came and she spent you know, 15 minutes with several of the companies and I got to see those meetings and she would ask them questions and the answers that they were able to give they wouldn’t be able to give that before the three-day boot camp. So watching that growth. So one thing I just love seeing and watching and being a part of that growth and our team has been such a big part A really helping them. We have a great team here and I to be able to do that. So that’s one I think two is continuing to connect with potential applicants making sure that they know how the program works and then I think the third is just being a part of that ecosystem, you know, making sure the other players and agent space that we don’t want to be overlap with anyone.

Really working together to make sure that we each doing internet complementary way. So the ecosystem can Elevate as

a whole wonderful. And before we let you go, you know beyond the health conference. We’ve been sort of asking everyone at the end of our podcast interviews. What’s your favorite part of being in Las Vegas?

That’s a good question.

You know.

Really young about it in this room when you think about it outside you go in the street. It’s nonstop energy and we’re gonna need non-stop energy to solve the problems that we have in the future. So really, I love that match up the energy outside the energy in the room.

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us Todd, and enjoy the rest of your time at Health Todd Heim director of The Office of strategic extramural programs at the National Institute on Aging. This is Russia bouchek for the mmm podcast. Thank you all for listening. Take care.