New Projects Will Develop Innovative Services to Help Older Adults Live Independently for Longer

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Three innovative small British companies have each been awarded government contracts worth £100,000 to develop new services that aim to help older adults live independently for longer through adopting better approaches to food and nutrition. The contracts have been awarded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council.

Three innovative small companies have each been awarded government contracts worth £100,000 to develop new services that aim to help older adults live independently for longer through adopting better approaches to food and nutrition.

The awards follow the companies’ success in the ‘Independence Matters – Home and Away’ competition for development contracts, a joint programme between the Technology Strategy Board (http://www.innovateuk.org) and the Design Council (http://www.designcouncil.org.uk). The contracts, awarded through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), will enable the three companies to work with designers to develop human-centred service solutions that help to ensure the independence of adults in older age, and which are ready to be scaled-up and rolled out to the commercial market.

The companies awarded the funding are:
FutureGov (London): Casserole is a modern twist on the meals on wheels service which will connect food enthusiasts in the community to cook an extra plate or two of home-made food for people in their area who would benefit from it. Casserole aims to connect communities one good shared meal at a time.

Sidekick Ventures (London): League of Meals is a tool to digitise older adults' home recipes, share them with a private network, and enable them and others to organise social meal events to enjoy home-cooking.

VISION Culture CIC (Worcester): Improving Nutrition in Older People will test and develop a service that will improve the knowledge and skills of older people in order to maintain their long-term well-being in a less clinical manner.

Commenting on the contract awards, Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, the Technology Strategy Board’s Lead Specialist for Assisted Living, said: “Much of the current service provision around nutrition encourages older adults to rely on others. Rather than seeking to maintain their own skills and independence, it takes away the opportunity they have to continue to do what they can for themselves, or to address their changing nutritional needs and tastes. These three exciting service development projects will offer a way to reverse this, through providing good nutrition and good nutritional advice, enabling older adults to continue to interact with food in the way they wish to, and enhance social interaction.”

Mat Hunter, Design Council’s Chief Design Officer added: “These next-generation services will help us maintain our quality of life as we age. All three teams show how understanding real, human needs inspires better solutions and we believe that this design-led approach will encourage the wider economy to embrace this emerging business opportunity. We look forward to seeing these compelling concepts brought to life and to market.”

The ‘Independence Matters – Home and Away’ funding competition was launched in February 2011 and followed extensive research by the Design Council to identify key areas in which innovations could make the most difference in helping older people to live independently. Nutrition and independent living are strongly linked and 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 identity, quality of life and independence. Access to good nutrition not only ensures healthy living (warding off both obesity and malnutrition) but also, as eating is an inherently social activity, it helps to maintain emotional and mental well-being.

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Nick Sheppard
Technology Strategy Board
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