WARNING: Your browser does not support JavaScript or JavaScript is turned off.
NHOC Innovation Fund
enlarge font decrease font size Text Resizer


An Initiative Driven By Older Adults, For Older Adults

North Hill and Olin College have a long history of collaboration: residents of the senior living community have collaborated with and learned with and from Olin staff, students and faculty. And Olin's community has learned from the older adults at North Hill.

“This fund demonstrates our joint commitment to spark and support products and services that could enhance the lives of older adults,” said Kevin Burke, CEO of North Hill Communities, Inc.

Resident interest in Olin’s robotics programs is particularly intense and resulted in a $2,700 donation to the Olin Robotic Sailing program, known as “Sailbot,” in 2011. In another North Hill-based initiative, Olin students are creating a cell phone app that will improve communication between older adults and their care givers.

Inspired by this generosity and engagement, North Hill approached Olin in late 2012 about the establishment of a fund that would broaden resident participation and provide funding for a variety of projects. Under the partnership, North Hill will match funds contributed by residents of the senior living community up to $5000 annually. Donate by clicking the field below.

Providing Financial Support for Innovation that Benefits Seniors

Qualifying projects should benefit older adults as well as provide a meaningful learning experience for Olin students. An advisory board comprised of representatives from North Hill, Olin and a third-party aging service or technology-related organization will determine which projects will be endorsed and at what level.

Projects may have an indirect impact on older adults (such as the ongoing marine robotics project) or may have a direct impact (such as the cell phone application). 

“This new fund puts the North Hill/Olin College relationship on a new level, and we look forward to the ways that we will collaborate to enrich the lives of older adults,” said Olin President, Richard K. Miller. 

Contribute to
The Fund Today!

To make an online donation to the Fund for Innov@tion in Aging, please click here.

Programs - Participants

Each year the Innovation Fund works with Olin to present an Innovation Lecture and designate grants to aging entrepreneurs.

2016 Innovation Lecturer - Dr. Helen Donis-Keller

The 3rd Annual Olin Innovation Lecture is being held on April 12, 2016 at Olin College. Keynote speaker was Dr. Helen Donis-Keller, Michael E. Moody Professor of Biology.

Art, biology and technology are often considered entirely different worlds inhabited by practitioners who have nothing in common. However, Dr. Donis-Keller demonstrate that these fields share a deep commitment to the discovery process and boundaries between them are often crossed. Using examples from her work and contemporary practice in these fields by others, inter-dependencies between art, biology and technology will be illustrated. Exciting possibilities that lie ahead and ethical implications of this work will be considered.

2015 Innovation Lecturer - Dr. Elizabeth Kong

The 2nd Annual Olin Innovation Lecture was held on May 6, 2015 at Olin College. Keynote speaker was Dr. Elizabeth Kong of the Hall of Human Life at the Museum of Science.

Elizabeth majored in biology at Boston University and is passionate about informal education and outreach. In addition to genetics, Elizabeth brings to the Museum her work in cancer research and personalized medicine. As a post-doctoral fellow at Tufts from 2010 to 2011, she investigated the molecular origin of cancer cells in the laboratory of Dr. Philip Hinds. Her cancer research has been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) with the 2009 “Scholar-in-training” award and by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) with the 2009 “Young Investigator” award. The year before arriving at the Museum in 2012, Elizabeth worked as a scientist at Correlagen Diagnostics/LabCorp of America in personalized medicine involving genetic testing and translating genomic results to physicians and genetic counselors. She focused on analyzing monogenic diseases such as thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer.

2015 Grant Recipients - Real World Solutions

Dr. Paul Ruvolo, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Founder of OCCaM: Olin College Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning

For the past year and a half, Paul’s OCCaM lab has been developing a system to allow people with visual impairments to more easily navigate unfamiliar environments. Their approach combines three main threads:

  1. rich sensors that are available on mobile devices,
  2. computer vision algorithms to automatically transform this sensory data into useful spatial information for the user, and
  3. online micro-volunteering whereby a sighted volunteer can view the video stream from a visually-impaired user’s mobile device and identify relevant objects of interest (a task that must be done by a human, as it is currently too difficult for any automated method).

The North Hill Olin College Innovation Fund will support Dr. Ruvolo as he works with an Olin student to bring a prototype device from the lab to the real world for user testing. While the target user group for the device is not limited to seniors, given the correlation of age with visual-impairment, this device is likely to dramatically improve the autonomy of a significant population of seniors. In addition, the team will begin a series of conversations with seniors to try and uncover other areas of opportunity for using this sort of mobile technology to improve seniors' quality of life.


Dr. Yevgeniya V. Zastavker, Associate Professor of Physics
Dr. Gillian Epstein, Consultant in Writing

Zhenya and Gillian are collaborating on an innovative partnership between North Hill residents and Olin students in the college’s new Critical Reflective Writing (CRW) course in fall 2015. In this collaboration, students and residents will team to reflect together upon their current and past life choices and experiences, with the goal of leveraging perspective from different vantage points of life in order to get new insights into our evolving life stories.

The course’s aim is to empower students with the understanding that what we do and learn has an ever-changing shape and story, and that at any given moment we can tap into that story and reflect on who we are, who we want to be, and what we hope to accomplish.

By building new working connections between residents and students, they also aim to learn from the experience and values of North Hill residents: how do their perspectives and cumulative experiences help give new vision to students’ stories? Together, students and seniors will cross boundaries of age, social context, and perspective to share and think through reflective narratives about their lives, values, and accomplishments.

2014 Grant Recipients - Lilypad Scales

Olin College students, Amos Meeks ’14 and Molly Farison ’13 conceived and launched their start-up Lilypad Scales at Olin College.

Co-invented by Meeks and Farison, the device is a lightweight, roll-up scale designed for individuals who are wheelchair-bound or mobility impaired, so that they may more easily keep track of their health and weight. Lilypad Scales are designed for ease of use—an individual can simply roll on to the pad, press a button on a wireless display and read the display. The device has recently won several high-profile awards, including the B.E.T.A Challenge at Babson College.

RSVP for the
3rd Annual
Olin Innovation Lecture

  • Would you like an email reminder?