Last year’s inaugural Abilities Hackathon saw the launch of a new event in Baltimore aimed at developing tech with accessibility in mind.
As it returns to Digital Harbor Foundation’s Federal Hill tech center for a second year this weekend, the effort will debut another new place for innovations that reach a community often overlooked by technology.
The Aging 2.0 Accelerator is set to kick off its first cohort of companies with tech that helps people 55 and older.
The monthlong program, which is affiliated with Aging 2.0’s global network, is designed to help health entrepreneurs test and validate their technology by working with mentors as well as senior focus groups at three senior living communities, including CHAI in Weinberg Place, Brightview Rolling Hills and Charlestown Retirement.
Aging 2.0 Baltimore founder Jake Tunney said some of the companies may still be in the idea stage, and this first edition of the accelerator won’t offer funding or take equity like other accelerators, but wants to help with those connections.
“A reasonable goal out of this is to see one of these companies get funded by TEDCO,” he said.
Tunney saw a need to help develop local companies as he organized Aging 2.0 Baltimore events featuring startups over the past couple of years, but the seeds were also planted in project at last year’s Abilities Hackathon.
Working with Michael Petr and Luke Samuels, Tunney developed Tuber at the event. The app allows a person to call an Uber on a landline. It was born out of a need: the elderly often still use touch-tone phones, but still stand to benefit from ridesharing’s efficiency with increased access.
Abilities Hackathon founder Ed Slattery emphasized putting pieces in place to turn the projects into viable companies, and the event had experts from healthcare institutions onsite to help project teams identify whether they were meeting real needs. He wanted to provide that level of resources to the Aging 2.0 Baltimore community as well.
“This accelerator was inspired by the hacakthon,” Tunney said.
Now Tunney is one of the organizers. There’s a track focused on aging this year, and projects that win in that category will have an opportunity to participate in the accelerator. Other categories for the March 10-12 event include wearables, transportation/mobility and leisure. Up to $10,000 in prizes are available.
On April 18, companies and hackathon groups will get back together for a pitch night.-30-