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  • Writer's pictureNancy Griffin

2021 Longevity Innovation Summit Provides Unprecedented Access & Opportunity

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Nancy Griffin interviews Mary Furlong on her upcoming event and why there has never been a better time to be part of the aging ecosystem.

Mary Furlong has always been ahead of the curve in the longevity market. In 1986, she founded SeniorNet with the first digital marketplace and hundreds of learning centers. In 2007, she wrote Turning Silver into Gold: How to Profit in the New Boomer Marketplace. She is currently founder and CEO of Mary Furlong & Associates and producer of the What’s Next Longevity events.

NG: Your 4th annual What’s Next Longevity Summit is coming up December 1-2. The original event was in DC at the iconic Washington Press Club, but you pivoted to a virtual at the outset of COVID. What makes this summit unique?

MF: I like to say the magic is in the mix.

For decades, Mary Furlong & Associates has straddled the worlds of Silicon Valley and Washington D.C. We are an information hub for evolving regulatory challenges and government funding opportunities like National Institute of Aging (NIA), and have been convening thought leaders at our events for 19 years.

We connect startups with our longtime investment and corporate partners like Ziegler and AARP and leading organizations in non-profit world serving older adults. Our strong portfolio of innovative companies makes a difference in the day-to-day lives of older adults—whether its food and nutrition or technology. We have given away $180,000 through our business competitions, and our connections between entrepreneurs and our partners have equated to millions of dollars of deal flow.

The Longevity Innovation Summit is focused on the fast growing and critical area of regulatory environments and policy changes that directly impact business. This year there is an unprecedented amount of funding now coming from the government which makes it even more important for innovators to learn what is going on at the summit. This type of access to our brain trust is typically only available to our private clients, so attendees really are getting information they can’t get anywhere else.

We curate a rich program of leaders in the government and non-profit sectors, entrepreneurs, and C-Suite executives to uncover needs and drive innovation. After each conference, we hear great stories about deal flow, partnerships, and even policy change!

NG: You have mentioned that there is unprecedented opportunity in the longevity market. What makes this year so special?

MF: There are three drivers of value – demographics, technology, and the regulatory environment. This year these factors have converged to create trifecta of opportunity. We are at a tipping point, and there is a big payout for entrepreneurs in the know.

COVID has caused global focus on issues related to healthy aging and aging at home. Next year could be a transformational year in aging policy, depending on the outcome of the Build Back Better Act proposed by President Biden. There is unprecedented momentum around supporting home-and community-based services.

We will likely see changes at the policy level to reimburse technologies for aging in place issues, support caregivers, and work on really big issues like dementia. This could include major benefit expansions in Medicare, first time government negotiation for drugs in Medicare, major new funding for Medicaid, expanded family leave, a family caregiver tax credit and major new elder justice legislation.

There is a merger between what was traditionally a sterilize federal investment conversation and a private enterprise opportunity. It is long overdue. The federal government has become a primary investor and they are looking for innovation—how things can be done more effectively and efficiently. Bright minds are going to win out when it comes to the best utilization of these dollars. The longevity summit will up everyone’s game.

NG: Please share some program highlights.

MF: Attendees can expect policy updates, breaking research, trends, and best practices. There are also opportunities to network partners, presenters and peers. For product and services companies targeting the longevity economy, we share funding sources and inside information on how to secure an SBIR grant from NIA.

On the policy front, Bob Blancato will share the status of the aging proposals and provide insights into what might lie ahead. As the former National Coordinator at Elder Justice Coalition and Executive Director of NANASP (the National Association for Nutrition & Aging Services Programs), Bob is one of the leading authorities on national aging policy and advocacy. He will help us navigate the complex ecosystem of Elder Justice, Social Security, Medicare Reimbursement, and the Future of Social Security and home care.

Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, AARP, will deliver an Aging Policy Brief that explores the potential for growth in the aging in place market, critical issues of workforce development, accessibility, funding, and legislation. We also are delighted to have Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Administration for Community Living, and Lance Robertson, Director, Healthcare, Guidehouse, and Former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging & ACL Administrator.

We are also featuring exclusive research on the longevity economy. Laurie Orlov, Principal Analyst, Aging and Health Technology Watch will share her recent study on smart home products and services—a market estimated to be $52 billion by 2024. Laurie will moderate the panel Future of Smart Homes for Older Adults with Jennifer Kent, Ph.D. from Parks Associates, Lainie Muller from and Ryan Elza with Volunteers of America.

Visit our website for a complete agenda.

NG: Thank you for sharing, Mary. I’m so excited for the summit! As we close, can you share something personal about yourself?

MF: I have a new granddaughter. She has my laugh; I've never heard a more precious sound. There's this magical moment when we laugh together!

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