Silver Starters 2021: European Program Inspires Older Entrepreneurs To Launch New Companies

 Silver Starters, a collaborative European program for older people interested in launching a businesses, will be fully online in 2021.  The 12 weeek Silver Starters course is a collaboration between several European think tanks, universities, and healthcare providers, including Aegon, Instituto Pedro Nunes, Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging, Medical University of Lodz and Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II. EIT Health provides funding. 

The 2019 pilot programs in the Netherlands and Poland received high marks from participants: 90% said that the course “completely met […] expectations.” In fact, the pilot’s outcome went well beyond positive course evaluations: 20% of the students began businesses. Following these successful pilots, Silver Starters has expanded to Poland and Italy for 2021.

Silver Starters logoOne Silver Starters alumnus is 82-year-old Han van Doorn, who founded AreYouOKToday, a remote monitor for elder caregivers. While similar products exist around the world, AreYouOKToday benefits from van Doorn’s personal experience as a senior citizen who needed a simple way to communicate health status with his son. Van Doorn’s solution is designed to be easy-to-use, respectful of privacy, and simple to maintain.

While the program currently depends on donors for funding, its leader, Dr. Jolanda Lindenberg of the Leyden Academy, hopes it will eventually become a designated social enterprise. Because she believes that “successful innovators are ageless,” Dr. Lindenberg expects many more older entrepreneurs to become Silver Starters in the coming decade.