Technology Strategy Board and Design Council Launch Competition to Find Innovative Solutions to Help Older Adults Live Independently for Longer

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Today sees the launch of a £600,000 programme to support designers and SMEs in developing innovative ways to help older people live independently for longer. The ‘Home and Away’ programme will fund designers, industry, service providers to work with charities and foundations, older adults their families and carers to develop and test new systems and services which tackle two key issues - mobility and nutrition.

Today sees the launch of a £600,000 programme to support designers and SMEs in developing innovative ways to help older people live independently for longer. The ‘Home and Away’ programme will fund designers, industry, service providers to work with charities and foundations, older adults their families and carers to develop and test new systems and services which tackle two key issues - mobility and nutrition.

The Technology Strategy Board is offering up to ten Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) feasibility contracts in the first stage of the project, each worth up to £20,000, and is inviting designers, industry and commercial service providers to apply. The four best proposals may then receive development contracts valued at up to £100,000 each.

The funding will enable teams of designers and businesses to work with older adults and third sector organizations to develop human-centric service solutions that help ensure the independence of people in older age, and which are ready to be scaled up and rolled out to the commercial market.

The launch of the challenge follows extensive research by the Design Council, to identify the key areas in which innovations could make the most difference in helping older people to live independently. The two main themes in the SBRI challenge are:

  •     Nutrition

To help older adults maintain their independence for longer through better approaches to food and nutrition. Nutrition and independent living are strongly linked. The ability to continue to prepare and eat food into older age as you always have done is a fundamental part of maintaining your sense of self, well-being and independence. Access to good nutrition not only ensures good physiological health (warding of both obesity and malnutrition) but also, as eating is an inherently social activity; it helps to maintain emotional and mental well-being.

  •     Mobility

To help older adults maintain their independence for longer through better approaches to mobility. Mobility and independent living are strongly linked. Mobility is more than just about being able to get around and out of the home without aids, or physically getting from one place to another. It is also about remaining an active member of society in older age; this is important and influences quality of life. Participation in family, community and society increases feelings of fulfilment and self-esteem. This is equally as important and essential for older adults. It reduces the potential for isolation that can lead to depression, undermines well being and can lead to a deterioration cascade which may ultimately lead to ill health and/or hospitalization.

The competition is being run through the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP), which is responding to the challenge of the demographic shift – in essence promoting independence by making technology better, cheaper and more desirable. The ALIP aims to significantly advance the technology to meet the demand for independent living from the expected increase in the numbers of people suffering from long term conditions and age-related disability.

The Home and Away competition is part of a larger programme called Independence Matters, which was developed by the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council to tackle the issues arising from the global demographic shift and develop and promote new approaches, attitudes and business opportunities to ageing. Independence Matters involves two projects. 

  •     Home and Away which will generate innovative solutions to help people to live independently for longer.
  •     Keeping Connected which will harness the creativity and information technology ability of young people, along with the life experience and needs of older people, to generate designs for technology enabled systems and services that improve quality of life, and in the process enable young people to engage with older people, designers and industry.

Independence matters will be rolled out over the next two years and draw upon the expertise and skills of business, the talents of top designers, the knowledge and experience of third sector organisations, the wishes and aspirations of older people and the ’know-how’ of younger more technologically aware generations.

To find out more, visit http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/independencematters

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Nick Sheppard
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