£2m project will harness design and technology to help older people

£2m project will harness design and technology to help older people

24 Nov 2010

Innovative new technologies, systems and approaches to help older people stay well while living independent and fulfilling lives are to be developed through a new £2million programme called Independence Matters, announced today. The programme, delivered by the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council, will see designers, industry, and young people working in partnership with older people 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.

Independence Matters will support the creation of new design and technology- led solutions developed within the context of older people’s lives. Enabling older people to live longer in their own home is a particularly pressing issue.  Over 65’s will make up almost a quarter (23%) of the UK population by 2034, according to the Office for National Statistics, and by 2025, almost 1.5 million people in the UK will be living with an age-related disability. 

Announcing the programme, Minister of State for Higher Education and Science David Willetts said:

"The Government sees enormous value in technologies which reduce social isolation. This project will help to bridge the generation gap - using communication technologies to keep elderly people more connected to family, friends and carers, as well as local communities. These new solutions promise not only to help people to stay independent for longer, but they also open up new market opportunities for UK business.”

Independence Matters involves two projects:

Home and Away will generate innovative solutions to help people to live independently for longer. The Technology Strategy Board will offer SBRI development contracts to enable designers and businesses to work with older adults and third sector organisations.

Keeping Connected aims to design and deliver designs for technology enabled systems and services that improve the quality of life of older people, while working in a new way with young people in schools engaging 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 needs of older people, to generate concepts that are then developed into market-ready services and products by 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.

Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board Iain Gray said:

“We are aiming to trial innovative new ways to help people live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives. At the same time, we will be working to help UK businesses to exploit lucrative new markets by developing innovative systems and services which they can export around the world”

Independence Matters is one of the largest programmes ever undertaken by the Design Council. David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council said:

“Design excels in finding new ways to solve complex social challenges – and they don’t come much more important than helping our current and future ageing population to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives. This is not just a ‘must-do’ for our society - it also makes great business sense for designers, service providers and manufacturers to develop new innovations to capitalise on what is a massive and growing global market.” 

Further announcements launching the various elements of Independence Matters projects will be made in the coming weeks.  To find out more, visit www.designcouncil.org.uk/independencematters

The programme 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 independent living and improved quality of life by making the technology better, cheaper, more desirable and more relevant

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

Companies and other organisations seeking further information about this and other Technology Strategy Board research and development funding opportunities should visit the Competitions page of the Technology Strategy Board website – www.innovateuk.org, email competitions@tsb.gov.uk phone the Competitions Helpline on 0300 321 4357.

Media contacts:

Claire Cunningham, Media Relations Manager, Technology Strategy Board,
Mobile: 07554 115745;
Email : claire.cunningham@tsb.gov.uk


Nigel Campbell, Head of communications, Design Council,
Tel; 020 7420 5282
Email; nigel.campbell@designcouncil.org.uk


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Last updated on Wednesday 24 November 2010 at 14:20

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