Healthy ageing challenge

Senior woman outdoors in sportswear

One in 12 people in the UK are over 75. By 2040, this will rise to one in seven. A third of children born now are expected to live to 100. On average, people aged 65 will live just half of the rest of their life without disability.

We want:

  • everyone to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible
  • to narrow the gap between the experiences of the richest and poorest.

The challenge will help businesses, including social enterprises, to create products and services to help people as they age, and deliver them at scale.

Find funding opportunities

We are investing up to £98 million in healthy ageing. You can use our funding finder to search for ISCF funding and any wider opportunities related to healthy ageing.

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See more details about available funding for the healthy ageing challenge below.

Trailblazer projects

Our ‘trailblazer’ projects will invest £40 million, which will stimulate new ideas from a wide range of organisations.

The competition is in two stages.

In the first ‘discovery’ stage, seven successful applicants have been given five months to demonstrate readiness to implement at scale. Run by diverse organisations, the projects include:

  • a new type of community to support people with dementia
  • flexible options to help older people to improve their homes
  • a project that will create local ‘tribes’ of small providers of adult social care where there are gaps.

The second ‘implementation’ stage will lead to the award of funding for major projects (up to £6 million each) which will last up to three years. Only the projects awarded stage one funding will be eligible to apply to the stage two competition.

Investment partnerships

This programme will provide UKRI funding and private investment in business-led research and development. The businesses will produce and market innovations for healthy ageing that can be adopted at scale. These will focus on product and service innovations, not larger-scale infrastructure.

A total fund of £39 million is available consisting of grant funding and aligned private equity investment. The fund will be available for eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with projects of up to £2 million in eligible costs.

Our investment partners are:

You can read our report on the future of impact investment in healthy ageing (PDF, 8MB).

Supporting social enterprise

Social enterprises can play an important part in addressing inequalities in healthy longevity yet recent research has highlighted the difficulties they face in raising funds to grow. The healthy ageing challenge will provide £4 million funding through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to accelerate progress towards the goal of reducing inequalities in healthy ageing by adding an impact approach alongside the conventional investment partnerships. The funds will support existing social enterprises with an ambition to expand their products and services that support people to age well.

Social, behavioural and design research programme

UKRI is funding grants up to £2 million for research into social, behavioural and design aspects of healthy ageing. The researchers will engage with businesses, including social enterprises, to:

  • provide insights into the needs and opportunities of an ageing population
  • help inform innovators
  • critically engage with businesses to support innovation for healthy ageing markets.

Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards

The Catalyst Awards aim to inspire innovations with potential to improve the health and wellbeing of older people across the world. The awards are the UK contribution to the Healthy Longevity Grand Challenge, a global collaboration led by the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

The next round of this competition will open in January 2021. To find out more, contact our partner, Zinc.

Community of Practice

The Community of Practice is a learning community which brings together the organisations funded by the healthy ageing challenge to deliver projects and research, and others interested in this market. It’s an opportunity to collaborate and share expertise, learning and insights from both UKRI-funded projects and wider work.

The Community of Practice is run by the Centre for Ageing Better. To find out more, email

Last updated: 17 September 2021

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