Content starts here
May 18, 2021
HITLAB and AARP Innovation Labs Accepting Social Connections Challenge Applications
Eight Finalists Will be Selected for a Chance to Win Prizes Valued up to $10,000

NEW YORK—HITLAB and AARP Innovation Labs invite startups across the country to apply for the 2021 Social Connections Challenge, now through June 20. The Challenge seeks digital innovations that aim to combat loneliness and social isolation, an issue that affects many adults as they age. Eight finalists will be selected to pitch to a panel of judges on July 15 for their chance to win runner-up prizes of $5,000 and $10,0000 HITLAB sponsorships. The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to compete in AARP Innovation Labs’ 2021 Grand Pitch Finale and consideration to become a member of AARP’s startup portfolio.

“AARP Innovation Labs has a long-standing commitment to combat social isolation and loneliness among older adults through innovative solutions,” said Jacqueline Baker, Vice President of Startup Programming, AARP Innovation Labs. “Our collaboration with HITLAB will further address this critical issue among older adults, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. We look forward to inviting the winner to this year’s Grand Pitch Finale.”

“As our population ages, helping people maintain their independence, vitality, and mental acuity is growing in importance,” said John Hammitt, Executive Director of HITLAB. “There is also a crucial need for helping older adults combat loneliness and social isolation. HITLAB believes digital engagement technologies can be further developed for allowing people to more easily stay in touch with all aspects of their unique world, from maintaining day-to-day needs to increasing social interactions.”

Grand prize: AARP Innovation Award

  • Opportunity to participate in the AARP Innovation Labs 2021 Grand Pitch Finale*
  • Opportunity to be considered in the AARP Innovation Labs startup portfolio

2nd Prize: Innovator Award

  • HITLAB Innovator Summit Sponsorship valued up to $10,000

3rd Prize: Pioneer Award

  • HITLAB Symposia Sponsorship valued up to $5,000

In addition to these prizes, a bonus prize will be presented to female founders and/or solutions pertaining to women’s health, which will include a HITLAB Women’s Health Tech Sponsorship valued up to $10,000.

Social Connections Challenge:
Innovators and startups are encouraged to apply between May 17 and June 20. The eight finalists will be announced on June 30. Finalists will participate in a mentorship bootcamp during the week of July 5 led by HITLAB Fellows and digital health experts. Finalists will present their novel digital solutions to judges on July 15. Innovators and startups can apply here until midnight (11:59pm EST) on June 20, 2021. For official rules and terms and conditions, visit here.

AARP Innovation Labs Grand Pitch Finale Competition:
AARP Innovation Labs’ Grand Pitch Finale Competition will return for a fourth year in Fall 2021. The event in 2020 featured eight cutting-edge startups that won selective competitions throughout the year for their innovative solutions to empower people to live how they want as they age. AARP Innovation Labs’ Grand Pitch Finale spotlights some of the best and brightest startups identifying challenges and solving important issues that impact everyone as we age.

# # # 

HITLAB is an impact-first organization that offers digital health research, teaching, and advisory services to improve health delivery around the world.

At HITLAB, we believe technology and health can work together to improve the quality of health delivery and healthcare worldwide. We use rigorous research and evidence-based methods to identify the best digital health solutions for each of our partners.

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.​

For further information: Justin Bulova, HITLAB,; Alex Guerin, AARP,