Ageing Society old woman using telecare innovation to champion growth

A landmark competition aiming to drive new assistive technology, independent living and mobility solutions is offering millions in funding to UK companies to help meet the needs of the UK’s rapidly ageing population.

The Trailblazer competition, led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and funded by the government’s Healthy Ageing Challenge Fund, is offering up to £40 million to fund new products and services that will help people to enjoy at least five additional healthy, independent years of life.

The Trailblazer Competition

Applications for the significant funding opened today [23rd September], with the UKRI calling on all sectors, including private sector businesses, public sector organisations and social enterprises, to come forward with their ideas to fill gaps in the market for affordable and easily accessible products and services.

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With the focus being on organisations that can develop and deliver such products and services at scale, the Trailblazer scheme will be rolled out in two stages – the Discovery stage and the Implementation stage.

Competition stages

The Discovery stage will see up to £100,000 available for 15 ‘trailblazer’ applicants to develop their business case and design for their big ideas for products and services to sustain a healthy, happy older life. This stage is open now, with the deadline for applications closing at midday on the 27th November 2019.

The Implementation stage is a closed competition open to Discovery projects, with organisations able to receive 50:50 matched funding up to £6 million of per application.

“The Trailblazer Competition is an exciting opportunity for businesses to deliver products and services which over-50s will actually want to use and buy.” Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better

One of the largest innovation investments of its kind in the UK, the Trailblazer is a major milestone for the government’s £98 million Healthy Ageing Challenge Fund, which feeds directly into Industrial Strategy’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge.

What is the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge?

Setting the mission of ensuring people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest, the Ageing Society Grand Challenge is championing innovation to meet the needs of the UK’s ageing society.

It is one of four ‘Grand Challenges’: Ageing Society, Artificial Intelligence and Data, Clean Growth, and Future of Mobility.

George MacGinnis, UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, said: “Now is the time for the UK to see our ageing society as an opportunity rather than a problem. We need to improve the support available to help people to live healthier, more independent lives.

“This would not only benefit society. It would also reap economic rewards as the market for products and services that are designed with older people in mind continues to grow. That is why we are launching the Trailblazer competition. We want to encourage innovators from across the UK to be part of the movement to transform how we age. Our grants will provide them with the resources to make their ideas a reality.”

Shifting demographics

The substantial funding is aimed at preparing for the UK’s rapidly ageing population, with one third of children born in 2019 expected to live to 100, whilst by 2040, it is projected that around one in seven people in the UK will be over the age of 75 (rising from one in 12 today).

“More than ten million people in the UK today can expect to see their 100th birthday, compared to the 15,000 centurions alive today,” commented Science Minister Chris Skidmore.

“It is imperative that we have the products and services needed to allow people to grow old with dignity. We need new innovations to meet the needs of an ageing population and this Trailblazer programme will help our best minds take great ideas to the marketplace, developing ideas that will help people live better lives, for longer.”

WHILL TGA Scootaround_MaaS Concept
Could the competition help fund new Mobility as a Service (MaaS) innovations in the UK such as the new service being championed by WHILL

In addition, the government notes that despite over-50s accounting for more than three-quarters of the UK’s financial wealth and nearly half of all consumer spending, the products and services created for this group are often not adequately designed for longer lives and can lack appeal.

“I am a passionate believer in the power of innovation – utilising technology to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives,” commented Matt Hancock, Health Secretary.

“This competition is a tremendous opportunity for businesses and creative minds to put forward their proposals for the next generation of life-changing products, supporting our Ageing Society Grand Challenge in the process and ultimately harnessing the power of technology to improve people’s lives.”

To win the significant funding, applicants will need to demonstrate how their ideas will tackle one or more of the following 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 impairments, and managing common complaints of ageing.

“The Trailblazer Competition is an exciting opportunity for businesses to deliver products and services which over-50s will actually want to use and buy. Many developers, designers and marketers treat everyone aged 50+ the same, and there’s a sorry selection of products and services on offer as a result,” finished Dr Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better and a member of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Programme Board.

“Over-50s account for nearly half of all consumer spending. With smart thinking and creativity, businesses can make the most of the growing over-50s market and unlock substantial opportunities to grow the UK economy.

“From innovative solutions to helping maintain health at work to inclusive products supporting people to live independently at home for longer, developing and bringing to market products that meet the diverse needs and wants of people over the age of 50 is a win-win.”

UK business keen to apply for the Trailblazer competition, can find out more and apply on the Trailblazer competition website.

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https://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Ageing-Society-Grand-Challenge-imagery.jpghttps://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Ageing-Society-Grand-Challenge-imagery-150x150.jpgCalvin BarnettGovernment & LegislationInvestments & FundingNewsroomSupplier NewsAgeing Society Grand Challenge,assistive technology,Centre for Ageing Better,funding,Healthy Ageing Challenge Fund,independent living,innovation,Matt Hancock,trailblazer competition,UK Research and Innovation,UKRI,WHILLA landmark competition aiming to drive new assistive technology, independent living and mobility solutions is offering millions in funding to UK companies to help meet the needs of the UK’s rapidly ageing population. The Trailblazer competition, led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and funded by the government’s Healthy Ageing...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals