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Discover how we’re developing ground-breaking responses to an Ageing Society

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, ISCF, Support

We continue to develop our detailed proposals for delivering this challenge, which has now been shaped by responses to our market survey gathering insights into where the greatest enthusiasm for matched private investment lies. Many thanks to the 140-plus organisations and individuals that took part.

Living longer, healthier lives through R&D

We’re delighted to see such a continuing healthy appetite to develop services and products for healthy ageing markets. The scale and scope of potential proposals cover a broader range of initiatives than would have been supported through our previous inclination towards three large Healthy Ageing ‘Demonstrators', or field trials.

Informed and buoyed by these insights, our intention is still to launch funding competitions later in 2019.

The Government has set out an ambitious mission for the Ageing Society Grand Challenge: for people to enjoy five more years of healthy, independent living by 2035 while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and the poorest.

The challenge needs to have the ambition to make a positive impact on the lives of millions of people within the next decade.

The need for market development and sustainable innovations

Our survey is one part of the research we have initiated to support development of a fresh approach to the Challenge. We have also looked again at the lessons from previous demonstrator initiatives and engaged the investment community to understand what it might take to demonstrate that healthy ageing is an attractive opportunity.

Looking at previous initiatives, we have not seen the level of adoption and spread that we would need. There are some good reasons for this. Many previous initiatives have informed policy or provided evidence to demonstrate value and have not had a strong market development focus.

To reach scale, the challenge needs to find innovations that are sustainable. These need to have a clear route to being widely adopted across the UK.

Targeted investment

We’ve previously expressed our intention to develop offerings that are complementary to formal health and care services. That means avoiding proposals that rely on shifting public funding from one pot to another.

There is a lot of investment going into the development of integrated care, sometimes called accountable care. As a result, the challenge will not fund clinical research or research showing the value of related healthcare service changes.

Our survey findings

Survey responses indicate that the potential bids would exceed the available funding many times over. Around half of the responses were for larger undertakings. Several different approaches are evident:

  • demonstrating a core service proposition
  • place-based to achieve an impact on a specific population
  • developing an incubator, as well as hybrids of these three approaches

Our original intention was for all projects to be business-led. This insight means that we are now looking to see how we might design competitions to allow a broader range of organisations to take a leading role.

Another finding from our research is the need to ensure the challenge contributes to narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and the poorest.  We see opportunities in this respect for the place based proposals, and in the realm of social impact investment.

Demand for investment

We have been working with the Centre for Ageing Better and Big Society Capital to understand the healthy ageing innovation ecosystem, and the funding and investment landscape.

There are clear opportunities for the Healthy Ageing challenge to stimulate investor interest in a way that would accelerate the development of the market. It could also address the significant demand shown in the survey, particularly from proposals for small projects. We are now looking at the possibility of including an Investment Partnership component within the overall investment of £98 million.

Our working assumptions are that larger projects will probably take a year to set up and need three further years to deliver. For smaller projects, we envisage a shorter timeframe with plenty of opportunities for funding during the life of the challenge. This gives organisations interested in bidding more time to play with and to mobilise and achieve their objectives.


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  1. Comment by Ejaz Qureshi posted on

    Very useful to have this feedback
    Would also be useful to have a Call date for planning purposes.

  2. Comment by Mrs S H Lingam posted on

    Society was encouraged, after the war, to have hundreds of babies and the Windrush people told to come in their hundreds . The educational establishments were not fit for purpose and could not cope with the rise in the numbers of children. Now baby boomers are being told due to the aging population there is not the funds to properly look after them. I believe this section of society, through no fault of their own, have been used as slaves for the wealthy. Their children in time will also fall into this category. We do not live in a democratic society. Anyone that tells you this is lying! Putting a cross on a ballot paper does not constitute a democracy! It has to be seen to be working to be believed.