This challenge aims to help people remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible. It does this by enabling businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and deliver beneficial products, services and business models.
The vision of this challenge is a society where people stay healthy for as long as possible as they age. We do this by enabling businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and deliver beneficial products, services and business models that will be adopted at scale.
This will allow people to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible.
During the five-year lifespan of the challenge, we are investing up to £98 million in healthy ageing via diverse competitions providing grant funding.
By investing in UK-wide innovation and research we aim to support both our ageing society and the economy through the delivery of market innovations within the growing healthy ageing domain, while also addressing inequalities in healthy life expectancy.
The challenge is funding social, behavioural and design research, drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines, to provide market insight and evidence that will enable businesses to maximise their commercial opportunities and address key challenges in the field of healthy ageing.
Representing a wide range of industries, sectors and academic disciplines, funded projects align to seven key themes which provide the greatest opportunity to tackle market failures and stimulate innovation in healthy ageing.
The seven themes of the healthy ageing challenge are:
- creating healthy active places
- design for age-friendly homes
- living well with cognitive impairment
- managing common complaints of ageing
- maintaining health at work
- supporting social connections
- sustaining physical activity
The challenge consists of several strands of work:
- trailblazer projects
- investment partnerships
- supporting social enterprise
- Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme (SBDRP)
- Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards
- Designed for Ageing competition
- UKRI Healthy Ageing Community of Practise
Our ‘trailblazers’ are major collaborative projects involving large businesses, social enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that span the UK, from Buckie in the north of Scotland to Brighton in the south.
These innovative teams (listed in ‘past project, outcomes and impacts’) have committed to spend over £44 million, including £23.9 million of the challenge fund, on ambitious three-year projects to create brand new services with sustainable impact ‘at scale’ benefitting communities all across the UK.
The investment partnership programme is providing UKRI funding alongside private investment for business-led research and development.
The funded businesses are producing innovative products and services for healthy ageing that can be adopted at scale.
Supporting social enterprise
Social enterprises play an important part in addressing inequalities in health longevity, yet recent research has highlighted the difficulties they face in raising funds to grow and deliver social impact.
To address this, the UKRI healthy ageing challenge has committed up to £3 million, through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), to support social enterprises that have an ambition to expand their products and services to help people age well.
For more information, please read our report on the future of impact investment in healthy ageing.
Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme (SBDRP)
As part of the healthy ageing challenge, UKRI has funded seven research projects (listed in ‘past projects, outcomes and impacts’).
Sharing a pot of nearly £11 million, these projects are examining the social, behavioural and design aspects of healthy ageing, to support innovation within the field.
- engage with businesses and social enterprises, sharing vital knowledge
- provide insights into the needs and opportunities of an ageing population
- help inform ‘evidence-based’ innovation
Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards
Video credit: UKRI. An autogenerated transcript of the video is available on YouTube.
The Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards aim to inspire innovations that have the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of older people across the world.
The awards are the UK’s contribution to the healthy longevity grand challenge, a global collaboration led by the US National Academy of Medicine.
To date we have supported 33 catalyst projects, which are led by university-based researchers at all stages in their career.
The projects are exploring innovations across a huge range of topics, including:
- the use of digital technology to support social engagement and physical activity
- design and service-led innovations to address loneliness and ageism
- innovative solutions tackling issues related to menopause, impaired vision and diabetes
Many of these funded projects will go on to develop into self-sustaining enterprises or play a critical role in informing businesses working on innovations in the healthy ageing domain.
Designed for Ageing
The Designed for Ageing competition is investing up to £20 million in game-changing, service-led innovations to help people as they age.
The aim of the competition is to support businesses with near-to-market innovations that have potential to scale, and which enforce people-centred design principles.
Applications closed in November 2021, and the funded investments will be announced in 2022.
Community of Practice
The UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge Community of Practice is a learning community which brings together our funded projects to connect, collaborate and overcome common challenges.