Corning Community College and Syracuse University Teams Win Share of $25,000 Top Prize 

PHOTOS of the event are available here

Aging Innovation Challenge Highlighted Breakthrough Solutions in Independent Living for Older Adults and Their Caregivers

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 30, 2018) – The New York State Department of Health today announced the co-winners of the Aging Innovation Challenge, a crowdsource competition developed in partnership with HeroX to generate innovative solutions to assist older adults and their caregivers in carrying out activities of daily living. The Challenge was open to all undergraduate and graduate students attending a college or university in New York State. The co-winners were selected from five finalists, which were narrowed down from a field of 24 semi-finalists, originally selected from 35 submissions.

“This year’s event showcased some of the best young entrepreneurial minds New York’s college and universities have to offer,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker. “It was an honor to name GripM8 and Pneu-Strength as the co-winners of the Aging Innovation Challenge for their creative and far-reaching solutions to improving the quality of life of aging New Yorkers and their caregivers.”

A panel of expert judges, including Commissioner Zucker, evaluated the five finalists' innovations to determine which team would be named the winner of the first-ever Aging Innovation Challenge presented by the New York State Department of Health and HeroX.  Judges scored the innovations based on a 15-minute presentation made by each team demonstrating their prototype and how it would improve the quality of life of aging adults and their caregivers. The judging panel also consisted of: Christian Cotichini, CEO, HeroX; Kristina M. Johnson, Ph.D., Chancellor of the State University of New York; and Laurie Orlov, Founder, Aging in Place Technology Watch.  

Sharing equally in the $25,000 top prize was GripM8, an assistive eating device targeted to people who have motor control issues that inhibit their ability to feed themselves, designed by a team from Corning Community College and Pneu-Strength, an inflatable seat cushion device that provides physical assistance to older adults in standing up from and sitting down on a chair or a couch, designed by a team from Syracuse University. The winning innovations each earned $12,500, plus $5,000 which was originally awarded to each of the five finalists. 


The Finalists:

  • GripM8 is an assistive eating device targeted to individuals who have motor control issues that inhibit their ability to feed themselves. The device features numerous slots in which silverware can be inserted, thus augmenting the user's current forks and spoons. GripM8 restores independence and boosts confidence at meal time.
    • School: Corning Community College
    • Team members: Stephen Epp, Christopher Herrmann, Anna Leonard, Samantha Orr, Rosemary Anthony and Sri Kamesh Narasimhan
  • Pneu-Strength is an inflatable seat cushion device that provides physical assistance to older adults in standing up from and sitting down on a chair or a couch.
    • School: Syracuse University
    • Team Members: Ruby Batbaatar and Kalia Zizi Barrow
  • mRehab is an in-home upper limb rehabilitation tool for lifespan eating self-management utilizing 3D printing and mobile smartphone technology. It provides customized tools, helps users set personal programs and motivates users to participate in the daily rehabilitation more effectively. The aim of the project is to promote function-oriented tasks and let the user engage more in the rehabilitation management.
    • School: University at Buffalo, SUNY
    • Team members: Chen Song, Matthew Stafford, Zhuolin Yang, Dr. Wenyao Xu, Dr. Jeanne Langan, Dr. Lora Cavuoto, Mr. Heamchand Subryan and Dr. Sutanuka Bhattacharjya
  • PediCure is a toenail trimmer for the elderly that provides comfort, confidence and self-sufficiency in the grooming experience. It is a two-part product that consists of a platform for the foot and an extension arm with a battery-operated nail trimmer attached to the end of the arm. 
    • School: Cornell University
    • Team members: Jialin Ke, Jonathan Pao, Joshua Zhu and Stacey Wong
  • StairPro is an innovative system that provides older adults safe and easy access to stairs and other barriers without additional assistance from caregivers and helps reduce the risk of accidental falls. StairPro has two mechanical legs that can be added to any standard walker, transforming it into a stairclimbing walker to provide access to any type of stairs. StairPro also has a smart alert system that provides sound and light signals to alert older adults of stairs, objects and obstacles to prevent falls, as well as an automated flashlight for low-lit environments. StairPro gives older adults independence at every step, both indoors and outdoors. 
    • School: Cornell University
    • Team Members: Paulina Villacreces

About HeroX

Founded in 2013, HeroX exists at the intersection of crowdsourcing, competition and collaboration.  The HeroX crowdsourcing platform brings together global communities of problem solvers to deliver breakthrough solutions to social, economic and strategic challenges.


Contact: New York State Department of Health

518-474-7354, Ext. 1