North East ageing and tech experts launch project to support businesses in innovating for the ageing population

09 Mar 2022

We’ve launched a project with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and the North of Tyne Combined Authority to improve the wellbeing of residents, support the local economy and create jobs across key sectors through strategic investment, business engagement, and technology-based solutions.

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The £5.6m joint investment seeks to engage with over 600 businesses in the North of Tyne region to provide new opportunities and R&D innovations that meet the changing needs and ambitions of those living and working in the region supporting the creation of 45 new products and services, creating 145 jobs, and improving the health and wellbeing of residents.

In the last fifty years, life expectancy has increased dramatically thanks to advances in science, medicine and public awareness the population is living longer, with the average life expectancy in the UK now around 81 years old, which brings us the challenge of improving Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE), as well as opening a new landscape of opportunities to better engage with the older population in their different stages of life, allowing them to live meaningful and connected lives.

This collaboration will leverage the expertise and investment from UK Government and Newcastle University through NICA and will focus on the novel concept of the Internet of Caring Things (IoCT), defined as a network of connected objects and cognitive systems designed to actively care for people, their physical and mental wellbeing, and what really matters to them. The ambition of this initiative is to involve more industries, beyond healthcare, to offer people, and their network of family and friends, a novel range of solutions based on an understanding of their day-to-day interactions — what really matters, what people really care about, what make them feel good that is also measurable.

This is a photo of two men standing outside 'The Catalyst' building, the name is on the wall behind the men.
(L‑R) Nic Palmarini (NICA), Arun Harish (CPI)

Dr Arun Harish, Director of Strategy, CPI, said:

With many of us living longer, innovations to improve healthy ageing are critical for today’s society. We are looking forward to working with NICA, to turn our breadth of capabilities and R&D expertise into innovations and new business opportunities, leading to more regional investment and economic growth. 

This project will boost cross-sector collaboration and support businesses in North of Tyne to access relevant expertise, ultimately delivering innovations that meet the needs and priorities of residents in later life.”

Professor Nicola Palmarini, Director of the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing, said:

The demands of our society are changing, and we must continue to innovate with the networks around us to drive social and economic change.

We want to work with local businesses to build a world-class innovation ecosystem, providing economic and social opportunities and innovations, with a central focus on citizens and community that will mark this region as an international leader for IoCT innovation.

We believe that our ability as a society to meet the needs and ambitions of our older residents more effectively — and critically that our solutions will be able to be transferrable nationally and internationally, will result in positive economic development and continued wellbeing of the ageing population.”

Businesses involved in the project will receive support through webinars, seminars and innovation challenges to bring together public and private stakeholders to challenge design and solutions for the Internet of Caring Things and create a marketplace for IoCT products, with the first webinar taking place February 23rd.

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor, North of Tyne Combined Authority, said:

Our unique approach to the Internet of Caring Things programme will allow us to work effectively cross-sector and position both private and public sectors as the forefront of UK and international longevity economy innovation.”

We will see cutting-edge research being translated into new jobs, skills and tech start-ups in the area. Innovations could include smart homes, connected devices, remote monitoring and models of health, care and support that enable older people to live independently.

We’d encourage businesses within the North of Tyne area to join the project, and work with us to help inform our future, and create a healthier North East, for longer.”

If you are a business in the North of Tyne area and want to be involved in the project please get in touch with Arun Harish below.

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Arun Harish

Arun Harish

Director of Strategy