Israel’s first Innovation Lab for Healthy Aging has been launched in Beersheva, simulating the challenges in the everyday living environment of senior citizens in order to inspire solutions.

The new project is backed by a ₪5 million investment and has a partnership with Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan to test its approaches and technologies.

The Innovation Lab for Healthy Aging is jointly sponsored by the Center for Digital Innovation (CDI) Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the National Insurance Institute of Israel, the Beersheva municipality, the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Amal & Beyond Group.

“In 10 years, Beersheva will become the center of senior citizen-focused research and innovation,” CDI founder and CEO Ziv Ofek said.

According to World Bank data, the percentage of the world’s population over 65 grew from 5 percent in 1960 to 8.5% in 2015.

CDI was founded by Ofek along with fellow entrepreneurs Sharon Sasportas and Boaz Gur Lavie in collaboration with BGU and the Beersheva municipality to focus on promoting and managing digital innovations in health, welfare, education and smart cities. The new lab takes all of these fields into consideration.

“When I think about this lab, I think about my parents and the real challenges they face,” Ofek said.

“Instead of looking for merely technological solutions, we went back to analyze the problem. We developed a 360-degree approach that looks at all aspects of a senior’s life.”

Not only technological solutions will be considered but also social project ideas such as connecting teenagers with seniors to alleviate loneliness and depression.

Model home

The new innovation lab is situated in a fully furnished model home that simulates senior citizens` living environment and routines.

New technologies and product prototypes will be implemented in and around the home to meet challenges such as preventing falls, alleviating loneliness, slowing deterioration, treating pain, and assisting in basic activities like bathing and toileting.

Startups and innovative projects already operating in the lab include:

  • Uniper Care Technologies, a TV platform designed to improve the communication process between the elderly and their families;
  • BetterCare, an application that provides caregivers at nursing homes and centers precise information and a means of monitoring their quality of care;
  • Vitalerter, a wireless platform that monitors heart rates and respiratory systems, providing alerts when identifying potential falls, infections, depressions, anxieties and general deterioration;
  • Healthy.io, a home urine-testing kit providing test results within minutes, which are then broadcast to the patient’s physician using a smartphone camera;
  • Story, a digital timeline platform designed to let senior citizens tell their life story and share it with their loved ones.

BGU President Rivka Carmi, a physician, serves as chairwoman of the board of the not-for-profit CDI Negev. Additional advisers include Dr. Gidon Sahar, director of cardiology at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva; and Ofir Ben-Avi, formerly head of the e-government unit of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.