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It's no secret the world is facing an ageing population and potentially, with it, an imminent healthcare crisis, and Google has stepped up to tackle some of our biggest problems head-on.

The tech giant today announced Calico (short for California Life Company), a new company that will "focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases," according to Google CEO Larry Page.

The company also announced Art Levinson, Chairman of Apple and former CEO of Genentech will be Calico's CEO.

"Art and I are excited about tackling aging and illness," Page said. "These issues affect us all -- from the decreased mobility and mental agility that comes with age, to life-threatening diseases that exact a terrible physical and emotional toll on individuals and families."

“In some industries,” says Page, who spoke with Time Magazine about Calico for its new issue, “it takes 10 or 20 years to go from an idea to something being real. Health care is certainly one of those areas. We should shoot for the things that are really, really important, so 10 or 20 years from now we have those things done.”

Meanwhile Apple's CEO Tim Cook was quoted in the Google statement as saying: "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results.''

Commenting on Art Levinson’s new role, Franz Humer, Chairman of Hoffmann-La Roche, said: “Art’s track record at Genentech has been exemplary, and we see an interesting potential for our companies to work together going forward. We’re delighted he’ll stay on our board.”

In its article Time said specific details of the project were not yet clear, but speculated Calico would use data-processing to help alleviate age-related issues.

Page also took to Google+ to address some initial concerns.

"OK ... so you're probably thinking wow! That's a lot different from what Google does today,'' he wrote.

"And you're right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there's tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people's lives. So don't be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses. And please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business.''

He said that the venture is still in its "very early days so there's not much more to share yet.''

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. He also writes for Junkee and Fasterlouder. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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