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Funding programme to inspire next generation of age-friendly products launches today


Funding programme to inspire next generation of age-friendly products launches today

The £98 million Healthy Ageing Programme, funded by the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will open its first tranche of competitions today. The programme will stimulate new ideas for products, services and business models, to help us live healthier, happier and more independent lives as we age.

One third of children born this year are expected to live to 100. By 2040, around one in seven people in the UK are projected to be over the age of 75 (rising from one in 12 today), but ageing should not be seen as a burden on society. The over-50s account for 76% of the UK’s financial wealth and nearly half of all consumer spending. There are great opportunities for business to create products and exploit new markets, which will bolster our economy and generate jobs.

The UK’s world leading academic, innovation and technology sectors are in prime position to support and enhance our longer lives, designing new products to keep us active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible.

Of the range of competitions to open in the coming months, the first two to go live are for Investment Accelerator (opening for applications from 19 August – 6 November) and the Research Director (opening for applications from mid-August – 15 October).

The Investment Accelerator scheme will stimulate private investment in business-led research and development, to grow and bring to market ideas for healthy ageing products and services that have potential to be adopted on a wide scale. A total of £29 million in government grants together with matched funding from private investors will be available over the next four years for projects up to £1.5 million.

The competition for the position of Research Director opens this summer to provide leadership of the upcoming Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme, and ensure that insight from research makes a difference across the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge as a whole.

The programme’s largest element (£40m) will be the ‘Trailblazer’ projects, which will stimulate new ideas from a wide range of businesses and social enterprises to develop and deliver products, services and business models at a large scale to support people as they age. These funding grants will open in the autumn.

Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, George MacGinnis from UK Research and Innovation said:

‘From our phones, to our cars, to the tech in our homes, innovation and technology has transformed our daily lives over the past 20 years. But what will our lives look like in another 20 years’ time? And how will new opportunities, products and services enhance our quality of life as we age? That’s the key focus of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Programme. 

The programme follows extensive consultation with the healthy ageing community, including care providers, businesses, investors and third sector bodies. We want to stimulate fantastic partnerships and compelling ideas to open up new global markets and transform the experience of later life.'

All funded projects will need to show how they tackle one or more of the following essential challenges of older life:

  • Sustaining physical activity
  • Maintaining health at work
  • Design for age-friendly homes
  • Creating healthy, active places
  • Supporting social connections
  • Living well with cognitive impairment
  • Managing common complaints of ageing

If you are interested in applying for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for Healthy Ageing, visit the Healthy Ageing Challenge webpage.

Notes to editors

About UK Research and Innovation

UKRI is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UKRI brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

About ISCF

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is part of government’s Industrial Strategy, the long-term plan to raise productivity and earning power in the UK.

The fund is a core pillar in the government’s commitment to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over 4 years to strengthen UK science and business.

It will invest in the world-leading research base and highly-innovative businesses to address the biggest industrial and societal challenges today.

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