Senior Living Providers, Residents Have Huge Appetite for Aging Innovations

It’s a misconception that seniors are resistant to change.

In fact, there’s a strong appetite for innovations in technology and service delivery among both senior housing providers and the older adults they serve, recent developments indicate.

A fund targeting investment companies that are improving the aging experience—including through technology, home-based care and data analytics—has recently closed, with the backing of roughly 100 not-for-profit senior housing providers and specialty investment bank Ziegler. And a new survey from Revera, one of the largest owners and operators of senior living in North America, has revealed that seniors believe in the power of innovation to maintain their independence as they age.

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New $37 million fund

Chicago-based Ziegler on Thursday announced the close of the Ziegler Link•Age Fund II, L.P., the second fund from the firm in four years targeting companies that are bringing innovative solutions to the aging marketplace.

The $37 million fund will primarily target early to mid-stage, emerging-growth companies that are focused on the aging or post-acute care sectors.

“We’re not seed-stage investors where we invest in ideas,” John Hopper, the fund’s chief investment officer, told Senior Housing News. “[We look for] companies that have a real product.”

The fund’s general partner is Ziegler Link•Age Management II, LLC, which is a 50/50 joint venture between an affiliate of Ziegler and an affiliate of a not-for-profit senior housing provider consortium called Link•Age Ventures, Inc.

The fund currently has about 100 investors, which is the maximum number permissible by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ziegler President and CEO Dan Hermann told SHN. These investors are not-for-profit senior housing providers and other industry professionals, he explained.

“[Many of our] not-for-profit clients haven’t had an opportunity to participate in the economic returns that come from investing in [these companies],” Hermann noted. Participating in the fund is potentially beneficial for these providers, in that they have an opportunity to make returns on their investment and the companies benefiting from the fund may ultimately contribute meaningful technology to the senior care space.

At the same time, fund participants will be able to attend a series of exclusive webinars and events to share ideas and receive expert guidance, Hermann said.

There are perks for the companies targeted by the fund, as well. These entrepreneurs, Hopper noted, will also receive guidance, and will have access to a base of potential clients in the nonprofit investors.

The enthusiasm surrounding the fund is palpable, Hermann suggested.

“This really is super unique, and our provider clients are really excited about it,” he said.

The fund has closed two portfolio investments so far: Chronic Care Management, a solution-oriented services and technology care management provider, and Socially Determined, which is enabling community interventions to improve measurable health care outcomes.

Older adults want innovation

Senior housing providers aren’t alone in their interest in aging innovations—their potential consumers are highly interested, as well.

That’s according to new research from Revera, which owns or operates more than 500 communities across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. It has a 76% stake in McLean, Virginia-based Sunrise Senior Living, one of the largest U.S. providers.

Revera recently hosted a series of roundtables with seniors who live in the company’s senior living and long-term care communities throughout Canada. The provider also conducted a national survey of 1,099 Canadians who are older than 65 regarding innovation and the experience of aging.

The vast majority of Canadian seniors—87%—said they believed innovation would help solve many concerns they have about aging, and 84% of seniors believe Canada’s private sector can do more to make the aging experience better, the survey found.

Additionally, 59% of the seniors surveyed revealed they are searching for services and products to enable them to live independently, longer. About 91% of Canadian women agreed that the private sector should be investing in products that promote independence.

With the report, Revera is hoping to make sure that investors are more aware of the opportunity that exists with the senior demographic, Trish Barbato, senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Revera, told SHN.

“This is an important group that you can market to,” she said. “It’s a business opportunity.”

Revera has taken innovation seriously.

“We’ve committed $20 million for pilots and innovations focused on seniors,” Barbato said.

One of the pilots involved Sensassure, a company that developed a sensor on the outside of a continence product that notifies staff when it requires changing, Barbato told Senior Housing News in October 2017.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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