Anglia Ruskin University researchers have won a €463,000 grant to lead Biz4Age, an 18-month European project focusing on innovation for healthy ageing.
With ageing populations, a shrinking workforce and increasing financial pressure on European economies, the importance of effective, high-quality healthcare is vital.
The Biz4Age project is being led by Ruth McNally, professor of technological innovation and social change at Anglia Ruskin’s Lord Ashcroft International Business School, together with Professor Chris Ivory and Dr Greg O’Shea.
Dr O’Shea said: “For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this region, many business opportunities for healthy ageing exist and these opportunities will continue to grow.
“Realising them, however, requires the development of new collaborative networks, new ways of working and specific SME support mechanisms.
“The aim of the Biz4Age project is to raise awareness of new business opportunities for SMEs, as well as the barriers they can face. Aside from traditional medical products, there are huge possibilities for companies to provide healthy ageing products and services.”
Examples of these innovations include “serious gaming” for older people.
This could take the form of virtual environments such as shopping centres or airports, allowing people to visit online ahead of a physical visit to help reduce stress and anxiety, or indoor GPS, which could work in a similar way to satnav and allow people to navigate their way around large, unfamiliar buildings.
Other innovations could include programmed lighting that adapts to the time of day to prevent mood swings caused by a lack of natural light, or walls that change colour to create a better ambience at different times of day or year.
The first part of the Biz4Age project will focus on developing a conference, publication and film highlighting the opportunities for innovative SMEs in the ‘2 Seas’ region, which covers England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The second stage will see the production of a strategic action plan for growth in region by bringing together the public sector, SMEs, academics and end users to generate concrete suggestions for future policies, funding, products, services and business models.
Biz4Age is building on the three-year European Cura-B project, which has recently been completed.
Anglia Ruskin’s role was to provide support and direction to the project, as well as carry out analysis of the data collected.
Further information about the Cura-B project can be found at www.anglia.ac.uk/cura-b
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