118 European age tech startups mapped
Join us in navigating the landscape of Age Tech in this article, as we map out the up-and-coming startups, suggest industry segmentation, and reveal key trends, like disruptive health services and the rise of home-based care.
Photography source: Julia Vivcharyk on Unsplash
This article is an attempt to provide structure to the existing solutions, and outline which are the most innovative in addressing challenges related to the elderly population. Our analysis focuses on Europe, although the mapping also includes other geographies for a more comprehensive industry snapshot.
We define Age Tech as the broad spectrum of solutions that employ cutting-edge technology to enhance the lives of older adults, addressing their unique challenges and needs. This sector presents a tremendous opportunity for both financial returns and significant social impact.
To put it into perspective, the 'Silver Economy' in Europe alone is projected to reach a whopping €5.3 trillion by 2025, dwarfing many other markets in terms of Total Addressable Market size. Notably, prominent European VC funds such as Index Ventures and Atomico, and accelerators such as Next Age or Birdhouse Age Tech have also identified this promising opportunity, further validating the industry's potential.
A quote commonly attributed to Mark Twain reads, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Even if, on a personal level, this might be true (and a great perspective!), our rapidly advancing digital age and socio-demographic trends shed light on the pressing needs of our ageing population. By 2050, around 2 billion people globally will be over 60. Out of those, nearly 20% may experience social isolation, a problem accompanied by various health risks. (WHO) Healthcare already represents an important cost for European countries. As of 2019, healthcare expenditures as a share of GDP in many European countries exceeded 10 percent. Out of those, around 10% is allocated to long-term residential care. (Statista)
Many European countries, including Germany, Italy, and France, heavily rely on informal care for the elderly. This is encouraged by governments to reduce healthcare expenditure, and economic factors such as high costs of care homes also play a role (Statista). However, with the expected growth of the elderly population and the decline of multi-generational households, relying solely on informal care may not be a sustainable strategy in the long run. Specialist nursing and residential care settings may be necessary for specific health conditions associated with ageing. Innovations in Age Tech are then proven essential in this scenario, offering solutions to enhance the lives of our older adults.
This substantial impact and market potential set the stage for us to dissect the Age Tech industry further, proposing a categorisation of the various segments. We outlined four key categories of Age Tech innovation according to the current start-up landscape:
- Health Monitoring & Medical Care: Ventures utilising technology to monitor, diagnose, manage, and treat various health conditions in older adults.
In this category, we see companies in three main sectors: IoT monitoring to improve the efficacy and safety of current solutions; wearable technology to allow greater independence to the senior population while providing medical care through the answers; and, more recently, a surge in digital health solutions, both for diagnosis and treatment.
- Assistive Living & Caregiving Solutions: Startups aiming to enhance the independence and safety of elderly individuals in their homes and to aid caregivers in delivering high-quality care.
This category represents the biggest share of companies in Age Tech, and its’ ventures address two main challenges: products or services to enhance caregiving (tech-enabled care, care management tools); and platforms that facilitate the process of providing and receiving qualified care.
- Active Aging & Social Engagement: Solutions that concentrate on the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing of seniors, encouraging a lively, engaged lifestyle.
This category has seen a lot of recent innovation within the Age Tech space. Ventures in it mostly build products that allow seniors to access a community or support them in achieving a healthier, active lifestyle. In the US, there is a larger share of companies addressing the topic of “specialised” services just for the elderly, something we might see more and more in Europe in the coming times.
- Financial independence & Continuous Learning: Tools designed to foster financial stability, career growth, and lifelong learning in retirement.
In this category, we find ventures addressing three main aspects: Financial independence for the elderly, typically associated with support in managing their retirement, insurance, and end-of-life bureaucracy; Career opportunities after retirement; and Re-skilling.
Floriano Bonfigli inspires this categorisation at Next Age Accelerator, thank you for your contribution.
See the full list of 118 European Age-Tech Startups, mapped here.
Recognising the broader implications of Age Tech, we've identified trends that are intrinsically linked to the segments we delineated. For instance, disruptive health services are revolutionizing the Health Monitoring & Medical Care segment, while the increase in home-based care is driving innovation in Assistive Living & Caregiving Solutions. Each trend is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather a crucial part of the broader ecosystem. We anticipate substantial growth in these areas:
- Disruptive Health and Social Care Services: As technology and health/social care services undergo disruption, we expect to see a surge in the integration of data-driven platforms, predictive solutions, and personalised services. Holly Health is an example, a digital health + wellbeing coach, supporting sustainable behaviour change for physical and mental health. AI and user-friendly UI/UX will allow the creation of tools better at interacting with seniors, rather than being static and rigid as we have witnessed in the past.
- Adoption of Voice and Video Technologies: Older adults increasingly adopt voice and video technologies to improve engagement, access information effortlessly, and stay connected with others. An example that stands out is Stimul’in, a platform that aims to stimulate intergenerational links while strengthening the brain, particularly memory. Technologies that enable communication while having therapeutic effects might be better at addressing seniors’ needs than general conversational tools used by the general population.
- Robotics and Automation: With the significant role robotics play in addressing staff shortages and enhancing patient engagement and caregiver wellness, we anticipate growth in ventures incorporating robotics and automation. Cutii is an example of an already-established player. However, this niche will need more development and solutions that are reactive and can prove themselves at a therapeutic level, which might take longer than other areas.
- Home-Based Care: With the rising demand for in-home healthcare services, technology is enabling remote care, telehealth services, and remote patient monitoring, creating ample room for innovation and investment. Nui is a great example, acting as a digital companion, supporting individuals in the caring journey of their loved ones. This is one of the areas with more innovations, and we expect it to remain as such, as the home-based care market is predicted to continue growing as a proportion of total care.
- Wearables and Sensor Technology: Wearables and sensors are becoming more commonplace, offering functionalities like fall detection, remote monitoring, and health tracking. Advonsense, developing the next generation of incontinence care products, is an example of how the wearable industry will become more verticalised and cater to the specific needs of the senior population.
- Community solutions: As the proportion of seniors in the general population increases, solutions that solve life in communities for this new generation will become an increasing area of innovation and interest. Solutions like Vermut will keep growing, as we might see new social platforms designed for this target user.
At maze impact, our goal is to be a catalyst in shaping a future where older adults can enjoy better health, greater independence, and a more fulfilling life, powered by Age Tech.
We are thrilled about the journey ahead with our newly launched investment vehicle, maze x. If you have insights to share or know a venture that could benefit from the maze x, we invite you to connect with us via email. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn.