National Innovation Centre hosts ageing innovation workshop with Nordic and Baltic regions

February 5, 2021 @ 8:42 by Chloe Holmes

On February 4 innovation and research organisations from across the UK, Sweden, and Estonia have attended the first in a series of online workshops, to share expertise on how to involve citizens in healthy ageing research and innovation.

Hosted by the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and the British Embassies in Tallinn and Stockholm, this healthy ageing workshop is part of NICA’s commitment to supporting and encouraging greater collaboration between the UK, and the Nordic and Baltic states on innovating for the world’s ageing population. This is part of NICA’s vision to provide services and insight at a global level and extended work outside of the UK.

This workshop is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and builds on the UK Government’s commitment at the Northern Futures Forum in 2018, a meeting of leaders from Nordic and Baltic countries and the UK.  It also addresses one of the four key pillars of the UK Industrial Strategy, to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society and follows interest from Nordic and Baltic countries, expressed in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office funded Healthy Ageing Innovation and Impact workshop that was delivered by NICA in Copenhagen in 2019.

This work also aligns with the North East’s Local Industrial Strategy, which shares the same aims of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society and the opportunities presented by this rapidly emerging global billion-pound market.   According to the World Health Organisation, by 2050,  2.1 billion people aged 60 or above globally, and NICA is a commercial gateway to this longevity economy, playing a critical role in stimulating demand locally, nationally, and internationally, based on what people need and want as they age.

Attendees discussed how COVID-19 has affected the physical and mental wellbeing of older adults, and what is needed to build resilient and thriving communities. Attendees benefited from the experience of VOICE™ who are based at NICA and have over ten years’ experience of working with citizens on research and innovation for healthy ageing. This work aims to share expertise and take forward opportunities on how citizens and businesses can work together to create new products and service that support healthy ageing.

Professor Patrick Bonnett, who is an Advisor to Government on the Industrial Strategy (Ageing) and Development Director at the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing said: “This event is an important next step in building relationships organisations based in Sweden and Estonia and gaining a business and citizen-led perspective on this growing market outside of the UK, looking at synergies, opportunities, and cultural differences. This is part of our work to support Government with its collaborative work with Nordic and Baltic countries and our vision to support ageing populations across the globe through citizen-led innovation.”

“Wellbeing is the first area of discussion, which is both timely and relevant as COVID-19 impacts people and communities round the world, linking to insights being gathered by VOICE™ in the UK and providing an area of obvious common interest for all taking part.

“This will enable us to collect citizen insights globally, for mutual benefit – addressing real needs and aspirations of older adults and supporting businesses to transform ideas into business opportunities. Our city is a ‘test-bed’ for research into healthy ageing and we want to share our approach with the world.”

Dan Peck, head of inward investment, Invest Newcastle added: “As a driver of inward investment into Newcastle and Gateshead, I was thrilled to participate in this creative exchange of ideas with businesses, citizens and leaders from Estonia, Sweden and Newcastle. Innovation drives economic growth, and NICA’s citizen-led intelligence supports businesses to co-develop and launch innovative products and services that equitably and inclusively drive healthier and longer lives.  Newcastle and Gateshead are internationally recognised as innovators in the healthy ageing space. By building strategic relationships in Estonia and Sweden, Invest Newcastle can further support local businesses in their global growth ambitions and position the region for further international trade, collaboration and investment opportunities. NICA’s innovation workshop advanced our efforts to understand healthy ageing investment opportunities between the UK and the Nordic and Baltic regions and we are excited to advance these international collaborations.”

NICA, who are based within Newcastle University on Newcastle Helix, is the UK home of Ageing Intelligence®, which brings together data driven insight and human experiences to help bring new products, business models and services to market. This work is part of NICA’s work to ensure that citizen insights and experience shape the products and services we need now and, in the future, to help everyone live better, longer lives.

For more information about NICA and VOICE visit www.uknica.co.uk

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