AARP seeks startups for seniors

August 1, 2012, 6:01 PM UTC

FORTUNE — The AARP today announced that it will hold  its first-ever startup demo day in New Orleans on Sept 21, as part of the organization’s annual convention. The official announcement came this morning, so I spent some time on the phone with Jody Holtzman, who is the organization’s senior VP of thought leadership.

“My group’s goal is to find ways for AARP to stimulate innovation for people over 50, and to stimulate innovation you need to find ways to be close to innovators,” explains Jody Holtzman, senior vice president of thought leadership at AARP. “We we’ve been establishing relationships with the venture community and entrepreneurs – many of whom are much younger than 50.”

So far the group has sponsored an event called the SV Boomer Venture Summit in Santa Clara, and last year created a pair of startup scholarships for the DEMO conference (for companies focused on the 50+ crowd). 12 companies applied and, this past year, AARP added an additional DEMO scholarship and received twice as many applications.

The New Orleans Demo Day will include presentations to investors – Lisa Suennen of Psilos Group is “moderating” – and then the entrepreneurs will make a second “end-user” pitch to between 50 and 75 actual AARP members. Each member will have a wireless voting device to rate the startups, with those giving high and low scores explaining their votes to the entrepreneurs.

By the way, I was curious as to why AARP would hold a convention in New Orleans during hurricane season. Holtzman says that the group originally was scheduled to do so one week after Hurricane Katrina, and had promised the city that it would return.

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