A £40 million funding competition has been launched today to boost innovations that will enable people to live better for longer.
The Trailblazer competition, led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and funded by the government’s Health Ageing Challenge Fund, will fund solutions that will help people to enjoy at least five additional healthy, independent years of life.
UKRI is calling on entries from across the board, from businesses to public sector organisations to social enterprises that can develop and deliver products and services that fill gaps in the market with aspirational, affordable and easily accessible products and services.
UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, George MacGinnis said: “Now is the time for the UK to see our ageing society as an opportunity rather than a problem. We need to improve the support available to help people to live healthier, more independent lives.
“We want to encourage innovators from across the UK to be part of the movement to transform how we age. Our grants will provide them with the resources to make their ideas a reality.”
Applicants should demonstrate how their ideas will tackle one or more of the following challenges of older life:
• Sustaining physical activity
• Maintaining health at work
• Design for age-friendly homes
• Creating healthy, active places
• Supporting social connections
• Living well with cognitive impairment
• Managing common complaints of ageing
The Trailblazer Scheme will roll out in two stages – up to £100,000 will be available to around 15 ‘trailblazers’, which will support the development of a business case and design.
For stage two of the competition, UKRI will invest up to £38 million to develop and implement products, services or business models.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am a passionate believer in the power of innovation – utilising technology to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives.
“This competition is a tremendous opportunity for businesses and creative minds to put forward their proposals for the next generation of life-changing products, supporting our Ageing Society Grand Challenge in the process and ultimately harnessing the power of technology to improve people’s lives.”
Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better and a member of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Programme Board, welcomed the competition.
“The Trailblazer Competition is an exciting opportunity for businesses to deliver products and services which over-50s will actually want to use and buy. Many developers, designers and marketeers treat everyone aged 50+ the same, and there’s a sorry selection of products and services on offer as a result,” she said.
“Over-50s account for nearly half of all consumer spending. With smart thinking and creativity, businesses can make the most of the growing over-50s market and unlock substantial opportunities to grow the UK economy.”