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International collaboration to find new ideas for healthy longevity


International collaboration to find new ideas for healthy longevity

Monday 6 January 2020

Researchers from across the UK are invited to apply for a new, international fund that aims to inspire breakthrough innovations to improve our physical, mental and social wellbeing as we age.

The  Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, established by the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and funded in the UK under the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge Fund hopes to spearhead new ideas, inform policies and priorities and make a real-life impact on the health and wellbeing of people across the world as they grow older. 

UKRI will fund up to 20 Awards in the first round of the catalyst phase of the challenge2020. The total investment over the next 3 years will be over £3million for 60 catalyst awards. Researchers are invited to submit outline proposals for the first tranche of awards, which opens today. 

Successful catalyst award applicants will also be eligible for the later stages of the NAM Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge competition, including accelerator awards of up to $0.5m USD and the $5m USD Grand Prize.

George MacGinnis, Challenge Director of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge, which funds the UK Catalyst Awards said:

“How can we embrace the opportunities in a society where the prospect of a 100-year life will be the norm? This is a question facing countries all over the world. It’s crucial that we collaborate globally to support the brightest and best early stage innovations that have real potential for impact. That’s why we’re delighted to be joining the NAM Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, which aligns directly with UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge, to help people remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across the generations for as long as possible.”

One in four people in the UK will be over 65 by 2037, which presents a challenge to health services – but is also an opportunity for businesses and researchers, who can help people to stay active, productive and strong for as long as possible as they age.

The Government has set out an ambitious mission for the Ageing Society Grand Challenge: for people to enjoy at least five more years of healthy, independent living by 2035; while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest. Through funding like this, the Government is supporting the development of products and services to help individuals carry out day-to-day activities as they age – allowing the population lead fuller, healthier and more happy lives.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“More than 10 million people in the UK today can expect to see their 100th birthday and as more people live longer, we must ensure they can live independently, with dignity and with a high quality of life for longer.

“The Government is committed to backing our innovators and our entrepreneurs to make the breakthroughs and discoveries that will improve the quality of life for millions as they age. This catalyst is a prime example of how we can join forces with our international counterparts to share invaluable knowledge and drive healthcare improvements on a global scale.”

Nicola Blackwood, Minister for Innovation said:

“We want people to live well into old age, so it is vital we find new ways to keep people active, well-supported and living independently for as long as possible.”

“Britain’s world-leading researchers and reputation for innovation are fundamental to this. Today we are calling on our brightest and best to collaborate with other leading minds across the world to generate new ways to help our ageing society flourish.” 

The applications for catalyst awards will be anonymous, encouraging proposals on the basis of the creativity and transformative potential of their idea, rather than their previous track record.

Applicants must be working for a UK research organisation and proposals may be for up to £62,500 at full economic costs.

Applications will be expected to align with the priority areas of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge. These are:

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

Through programmes such as these, the Government is ensuring the UK continues to be a world leader in science and research, attracting some of the world’s best research talent and reflecting our commitment to make the UK a science powerhouse.

For further information about UKRI’s involvement in this collaboration click here. To apply for a catalyst award, click here.

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