Funding programme to inspire next generation of age-friendly products

£98m Healthy Ageing Challenge will stimulate ideas for innovative new products, services and business models for healthier living

The £98m Healthy Ageing Challenge, 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 people live healthier, happier and more-independent lives as they age.

It comes as research predicts that one third of children born this year are expected to live to the age of 100.

And, 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.

And there are great opportunities for business to create products and exploit new markets which will bolster the UK economy and generate jobs.

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 until 6 November; and the Research Director, opening for applications in mid-August until 15 October.

The challenge will ensure that older people continue to lead independent lives for longer

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 the potential to be adopted on a wide scale.

A total of £29m in government grants, together with matched funding from private investors, will be available over the next four years for projects up to £1.5m.

The competition for the position of Research Director opens this summer to provide leadership of the upcoming Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme, and to 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 programme.”

The programme follows extensive consultation with the healthy ageing community, including care providers, businesses, investors, and third-sector bodies.

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; and managing common complaints of ageing.