"There are barriers and challenges... but the good news is that start-ups are agile and run by people keen to come up with solutions. They will find a way."
What struck me about our webinar this week on home care technology was the sheer passion of the innovators who have launched start-ups in that market.
Of course they need to be astute business people and know how to run an organisation and raise investment. But there is more to these trailblazers than the commercial drive one might expect.
It’s clear that what motivates them is a desire to make a difference and to develop tech that transforms people’s lives.
This is really important as in order to develop services and solutions for care givers and care receivers, you must feel drawn to making a difference and be able to think beyond just the tech.
Technology innovators and care providers are perhaps two very different groups and yet, together, they can make something very special happen.
So how do we build on what’s been achieved so far? What the Future Care Capital Care Tech Landscape Review revealed was the need for an ecosystem of start-ups in this field.
If the basis for moving forward is providing tech for purely commercial reasons, that is not necessarily going to benefit the sector – and it might not work. By building an ecosystem of diverse and relevant players, this can only be good for the sector and ensure that it thrives.
That in turn will drive further innovation and keep everyone on their toes. But currently the home care technology ecosystem is fragmented. There are some barriers around raising investment. And there are also geographical barriers in relation to where such tech firms tend to cluster or not.
But we have seen examples of companies that have overcome that. Which brings me back to my point about innovators with a deeply held passion for making a real difference to people’s lives.
Our review focused on home care but we know more research is needed so start-ups can look beyond home care to other areas like mental health, disability care and residential care.
We hope to collaborate with other partners on this, broaden the thinking and spark more debate about the benefits of technology and how we can make sure those benefits are shared out equitably.
Another take-home message for me from our webinar was around unpaid carers. The start-ups we heard from articulated views on the unpaid carer market and the challenges it holds.
As one contributor pointed out, the development of consumer products for unpaid carers is littered with examples of failures. Yet those unpaid carers are the cornerstone of the consumer market.
The good news is that start-ups are agile and they are run by people keen to come up with solutions. They will find a way. They are adept at taking up ideas and running with them.
There’s also a much wider picture here and it’s one that Future Care Capital wants to take account of as we grow our research into technology. The Care Tech Landscape Review was just a starting point for us. So watch this space!