Schools to take part in national design challenge to help older people be better connected

Schools to take part in national design challenge to help older people be better connected

07 Dec 2010

Schools across the UK are being invited to take part in a unique challenge – to design innovative new approaches to help older people stay better connected to their communities and younger generations.

The Keeping Connected Challenge is looking for fifteen secondary schools to work with professional designers to develop ideas for new technology-enabled services and systems that promote and improve meaningful interactions between family, friends and younger people, as well as address issues of reassurance, relationship building and social responsibility. Enabling older people to stay better connected to their wider community and family is increasingly important. Currently approximately 1.7 million older people live alone, and people over 65 years spend over 80% of their time at home, rising to 90% of their time for those over 85 years.

The Challenge was launched today by the Technology Strategy Board in partnership with the Design Council, who are asking interested secondary schools to visit to find out more and apply.  Deadline for applications is 19th January 2011.

As well as delivering designs for technology enabled systems and services that improve the quality of life of older people, Keeping Connected will work in a new way with young people in schools, enabling them to engage with older people, designers and industry. The idea is to harness the creativity and information technology ability of young people, along with the life experience and wishes of older people, to generate concepts that are then developed into market-ready services and products by industry.

Fifteen selected schools will be partnered up with a professional designer, who will act as a mentor, guiding schools through the design process.  Schools will also work closely with older people in their community, and in doing so challenge current attitudes about both older and younger people.  Following the design development phase in Spring 2011, shortlisted schools will be asked to ‘pitch’ their design concepts to a panel of experts from industry in July 2011, who will select 2-3 concepts to turn into professional design briefs.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“The concept of younger people working with older generations to devise solutions to this challenge is inspired. It is what innovation is all about; collaborating and sharing knowledge to come up with creative new solutions to challenges. The use of technology enabled solutions to address a big challenge like an ageing population makes perfect sense. There will be a great business opportunity, but in addition to this, using technology to address the acutely personal and human issues of social isolation, and mental wellbeing is truly amazing. It shows that it is possible to work towards sustainable solutions to some of the big challenges that we face in our society and improve quality of life for everyone.”

It is the first national Schools Design Challenge that the Design Council has launched, following a series of successful regional challenges in which students have worked with designers to develop and implement innovations to help improve the sustainability of their school.

David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council said:

“Governments around the world are seeking solutions to address the rising costs of an ageing population. There are innovations to be found in the smart application of technology – that’s where design comes in. There are also whole new dirctions to be explored – that’s where the sum of our creativity is required. That’s why we are calling on our emerging young designers, engineers and scientists to work together and put forward their ideas alongside professionals in industry.”

The winning concepts will form the basis of the second phase of the project - a national industry challenge for small and medium sized businesses, who will apply for grants to take forward the concepts, developing them into working solutions that can be scaled-up and implemented in 2012.

Keeping Connected is part of a two-year, £2million programme called Independence Matters from the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council, which aims to develop innovative new technologies, systems and approaches to help older people stay well while living independent and fulfilling lives. The programme, delivered by the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council, will see designers, business, young people and older people working in partnership to jointly develop and test new systems and services which tackle issues of mobility, healthy eating, staying fit and keeping connected to friends, family and the younger generation.

For full press release including notes to editors please follow this link

Press enquiries should be directed to

Nigel Campbell, Head of Communications, Design Council 020 7420 5282 and / or

Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager, Technology Strategy Board. 0755 4115745

This video requires flash version 7 or higher to play.

Last updated on Monday 14 February 2011 at 14:15

More like this

Copyright © 2013