Competition seeks out ways to increase elderly independence

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Design Council have launched a competition to find solutions that will help older people increase their independence.

The ‘Home and Away’ programme will make £600,000 available for designers, industry and service providers to develop new technologies that will improve mobility and nutrition.

Up to 10 Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) feasibility contracts will be offered in the first stage of the project, each worth up to £20,000. The four best proposals for the SBRI may go on to receive development contracts valued at up to £100,000 each.  

The launch of the competition follows research by the Design Council, to identify key areas in which innovations could make the most difference in helping older people to live independently.

According to its research, independent living is strongly linked with access to good nutrition. It not only ensures good physiological health but also maintains that eating is an inherently social activity and improves emotional and mental wellbeing.

Mobility is also a crucial factor in independence. It allows people to remain active members of society and participate in family, community and society. It reduces the potential for isolation that can lead to depression and ultimately lead to ill health or hospitalisation.

The competition is being run through the TSB’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP), which is hoping to make technology for independent living better, cheaper and more desirable. It is part of a larger programme called Independence Matters, which was developed by the TSB and the Design Council.