About biz4age

About biz4age

About biz4age

How can we transform the challenges of ageing populations into opportunities for regional economic growth and personal wellbeing?

This is the question that motivates Biz4Age.

Business Opportunities for Health Ageing (Biz4Age) is cluster project funded by the INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Cross-border Cooperation Programme. 

It brings together partners from two previous INTERREG IVA projects, “CURA-B” and “2 Seas Trade”, and other organisation that want to co-create regional economic growth and healthy ageing, and that share our core value which is to place the needs and dignity of citizens at the centre of social and technological change.

Our partners and collaborators are from the UK (Kent, Cambridgeshire), The Netherlands (Zeeland), Belgium (West-Flanders) and France (Nord-pas-de-Calais).

In Phase 1 (April 2014 – February 2015) we applied the combined results and expertise of CURA-B and 2 Seas Trade to the question of how to transform the challenges of ageing populations into regional business opportunities.  

Our findings from Phase 1 are:

  1. Healthy Ageing: Regional challenges and strategic opportunities for smart specialisation

The challenges and opportunities of ageing populations are not just related to healthcare, but include other sectors too.  Moreover, rather than focusing on the elderly, we should orientate our regional economies towards healthy ageing as a lifelong process. Housing, food and tourism are three strategic areas that combine our regional priorities and strengths with opportunities to integrate healthy ageing with economic growth.

  1. Approaches: triple and quadruple-helix collaboration, catalysts, open innovation, and living laboratories

A variety of initiatives in our regions, including pilot studies undertaken in CURA-B, are creating economic growth and improving social welfare through innovative care solutions. From these initiatives we identified the following approaches as necessary for success: triple and quadruple-helix collaboration between knowledge institutions, businesses and public bodies; mechanisms to catalyse and sustain regional networks involving the many different kinds of stakeholders; ways of building trust for open innovation; user-led innovation through living laboratories that place the needs and dignity of citizens at the centre of social and technological change.

  1. SMEs: Challenges, support and engagement

SMEs can play a vital role in contributing to regional economic growth and healthy ageing.  However, they face a number of obstacles including: lack of knowledge about opportunities; lack of contacts; fragmented markets; conservative purchasers; and complex regulations and procurement systems. 2 Seas Trade developed and implemented a range of measures to support SMEs to trade across borders. However, additional, incentives are needed to engage SMEs with more future-oriented, strategic initiatives and induce them collaborate in regional triple helix consortia.

We disseminated our Phase 1 findings through a Special Issue of the 2 Seas Magazine, a Conference, and three Videos.

In Phase 2 (March 2015 – September 2015) our focus was on housing, which was one of the strategic areas we identified in Phase 1. Our goal was to explore how to support independent living in ways that are life-enhancing and fulfilling for residents and their families and carers, at the same time as creating business opportunities for regional economic growth.

We took forward and developed key regional initiatives, namely, the Zeeland Living Room, the Kent Integration Pioneer, and the concept of a “vital living environment”.  The core of our Phase 2 activities was three projects.

 “ROOMforLIFE” initiates the process of translating the Zeeland Living Room’s unique approach to user-led innovation to a care home in Kent.

In “Vital Living Environment in Zeeland”, experts from VIVES University College Bruges applied their concept of a vital living environment to extend the Zeeland Living Room concept from individual dwellings to neighbourhoods.

“Co-creating Solutions for Independent Living” took up the difficult challenge of engaging SMEs and other stakeholders in regional, triple-helix consortia in Kent.

Through these three projects we sought to reconceptualise the construction, design and social organisation of personal and shared accommodation and their surrounding neighbourhoods. 

 

Our projects

From March – September 2015, Biz4Age is undertaking 3 projects: ROOMforLIFE; Vital Living Environment; Co-Creating Solutions for Independent Living. Our focus in these projects is on independent living. Our aim is to explore how to design and build homes and neighbourhoods that truly meet the needs of residents at the same time as enhancing the local economy. In particular we explore the transferability of the Zeeland Living Room approach to new contexts and regions.

The Zeeland Living Room (ZLR) is a living laboratory for independent living. It is both a project and a process and is now being implemented at several sites in Zeeland. The key feature of the ZLR is that the myriad changes (social, economic, policy and technological) that are required to accommodate ageing populations should start from identifying their individual needs. 

Co-Creating Solutions for Independent Living is closely linked to ROOMforLIFE.  Whilst ROOMforLIFE is initiating the setting up of the rooms and recruitment of the first volunteers for the living laboratory, Co-Creating Solutions is exploring how this initiative can be fully implemented and sustained beyond the end of Biz4Age. This involves engaging SMEs and other regional stakeholders with this approach, and finding ways for them to collaborate.

ROOMforLIFE (R4L) is a living laboratory that is exploring the transferability of the Zeeland Living Room’s approach to user-led innovation to a care home in Kent. Two rooms in the care home are being prepared for independent living with innovative solutions provided by local SMEs. In July and August, volunteers will be invited to move in and give their feedback on how the rooms do, and do not, meet their particular needs.

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Latest news

Bruno de Oliveira Alves, Policy Advisor, European Commission DG Connect participated in Biz4Age Workshop

Biz4Age final workshop was held in Kent on 8 September 2015 where Bruno de Oliveira (Policy Advisor at the European

Commission Directorate General Communication Networks) provided expert advice on  e-health data issues and European

policy and funding for technology and demographic change. 

More info

Biz4Age presented at AAL Forum in Ghent

Arend Roos (pictured) and Petra da Braals (Economische Impuls Zeeland) and Anne Tidmarsh and Robert Stewart (Kent County Council) organised a lively interactive session on Biz4Age at the AAL Forum on Ghent on 23 September 2015.