The 2016 European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing was an opportunity to highlight the excellent initiatives from regions across Europe. The Summit brought together diverse stakeholders to boost Europe’s competitive advantage in the Silver Economy
The Silver what?
Europe is growing older and while this is a challenge because society has to adapt its strategies, products and services, it could also be an opportunity. Indeed in terms of world demographic trends, Europe will become older first. If Europe innovates first it will get a competitive advantage. If a large part of the population is getting older this means also a new market is being created, hence the reference to the Silver economy. the Silver Economy is believed to grow faster than the Green Economy, which says something about its potential.
The Silver Economy covers new market opportunities arising from public and consumer expenditure related to the rights, needs and demands of the (growing) population over 50.<br>Public spending on ageing in the EU accounts for 25% of GDP and 50% of general government expenditure and is projected to grow by 4% of GDP until 2060 (see the Commission’s 2015 Ageing report).
The European Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing
The Innovation Union strategy outlines the way the European Commission decided to support European competitiveness and tackle societal challenges. The focus is on research and innovation.
The European Commission has identified active and healthy ageing/ demographic change as a major societal challenge common to all European countries. It also presents considerable potential for Europe to lead the world in health innovation.
The Innovation Partnerships are one of the elements of the Innovation Union strategy. The Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP-AHA) brings together end users, public authorities, industry, all actors in the innovation cycle, and those engaged in standardisation and regulation.
The Partnership’s objective is to improve the framework conditions for uptake of innovation: Funding and investments in innovation need to be leveraged. But funding for research and innovation in European territories also needs to be more coherent and better coordinated.
Recognising excellent practices
Last year at the Conference of Partners of the EIP-AHA Günther Oettinger, EC Commissioner for the Digital Economy & Society announced a new Call for Reference sites. A total of 74 regional and local organisations have been awarded “Reference Site” status. The Reference Sites awards showcased the commitment of these local and regional organisations to invest over €4 billion in connected health and care for the ageing population until 2019 – an investment expected to benefit at least 4 million people across Europe.
8 AER member regions were among the winners: Catalonia (ES) ****, City of Zagreb (HR)*, East of France (FR)**, Friuli Venezia Giulia (IT)***, Ile de France (FR), Murcia (ES)**, Norrbotten (SE)***, Noord-Brabant Province (NL)***, Nouvelle-Aquitaine (FR)**.
Creating a shared vision
The European Innovation Partnership managed to engage stakeholders in the drafting of a shared vision on IT health innovation. This shared vision is known as the “Blueprint, digital transformation of health and care for the ageing society”. The Blueprint outlines how the journey of emerging digital “innovation to market” can be eased. It is also a manifesto for the alignment of innovation, economic and industrial policies with health and social care policies and with users’ and patients’ needs. The Blueprint was handed over to Commissioner Oettinger by the Blueprint Champion and AER Member Encarna Guillen, Regional Health Minister from Murcia, ES.
This is also very much in line with the work AER carried out during its workshop on stakeholder engagement in health innovation ecosystems and the event it organised together with its partner networks “E-health: let’s find a common language”
The ALEC 2017 event on 1-2 February will be an opportunity to further improve the dialogue between stakeholders. AER will, in particular, moderate a workshop on tapping into social capital and the engagement of carers and patients in integrated care systems.