Bayer, NUS Enterprise launch ‘Grants4Apps Singapore’ initiative to tap technology to improve elderly health
Bayer and NUS Enterprise, have recently launched “Grants4Apps Singapore”, a web-based crowdsourcing initiative that calls for innovative health tech solutions in Singapore and across Asia Pacific to improve medication adherence in elderly people with chronic diseases.
The challenge was launched at the Transforming Aging with Health Innovation Forum, officiated by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Health, Singapore, and attended by Yoriko Yasukawa, Regional Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Asia Pacific and other stakeholders including healthcare experts, policy makers, innovators, academia, corporations, NGOs and media from across Asia Pacific.
As the percentage of people aged 60 and above in Asia Pacific is set to double from 12 per cent of the population in 2016 to 24 per cent in 20501, so will the number of patients suffering from chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, and age-related eye diseases escalate significantly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the yearly number of deaths from chronic diseases in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific will continue to be the highest globally, and are projected to increase to 13 million and 14 million respectively in 20302.
“There is no doubt that across Asia Pacific, populations are aging. This is the result of reduced mortality, rising longevity and reduced fertility which is in turn thanks to people, especially women, exercising their reproductive rights, and as such, we should celebrate this phenomenon. But it does pose the challenge of helping the elderly population to maintain good health. Chronic diseases may prevent an aging person from living an active and productive life. We recognize the role that health innovation can bring in enhancing the quality of life of those patients living with chronic diseases,” said Yoriko Yasukawa, Regional Director, and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Asia Pacific.
While long-term treatment is critical to the management of chronic diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that only 50 per cent of patients adhere to long-term therapies. In the aging population, cognitive decline and polypharmacy (having to take four or more medications) usually lead to poor medication adherence. These result in decreased therapeutic benefits for the patient, frequent physician visits due to the deterioration of their medical condition, increased healthcare expenditure or even over-treatment of a medical condition. The first challenge of “Grants4Apps Singapore” aims to improve health outcomes in this group of elderly patients by partnering with innovators to discover and design innovative health tech solutions to help them overcome the barriers of medication adherence.
“While innovative medicines can transform the outcomes for these patients, medications are only effective for people who take them. Barriers to medical adherence are complex and varied, influenced by the patient, healthcare provider and healthcare system. Bayer believes in supporting innovation across the value chain to help patients and society in tackling their healthcare challenges. We have partnered with the NUS for many years, and are excited to broaden our partnership from classical clinical research into open innovation platforms which foster entrepreneurship and engagement of the wider community to address this important public health issue in our aging societies,” said Claus Zieler, Senior Vice President & Head of Commercial Operations, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division Asia / Pacific.
“NUS has long recognized the multidimensional needs of the silver sector. Our researchers continue to develop innovative ideas and inventions to address the well-being of seniors and their caregivers. NUS Enterprise is delighted to partner with Bayer on this exciting initiative to translate innovations and technologies into new solutions that will create a social impact on the aging community in Singapore, the region and beyond,” said Dr. Lily Chan, CEO, NUS Enterprise.
Submissions to the “Grants4Apps Singapore” program closes on February 14, 2017. Up to five semi-finalist teams will be selected in early March 2017 for a final round of coaching and pitching, culminating in a Final Awards Ceremony in May 2017.