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Date: 17 Jun 2022
Category: Digital Innovation
As Loneliness Awareness Week draws to a close, an event at Belfast’s Europa Hotel is showcasing how innovative solutions from tech SMEs are having a positive impact on older people’s health, wellbeing and independence.
The event is part of the £2.5 million ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing’ programme launched in 2021 in response to the UK Government’s Grand Challenge to ensure people can live longer healthier lives in their own homes.
Homes for Healthy Ageing established a series of tech testbeds across the country, with the Belfast testbed based in in the city’s Markets area. The Europa event will share the experiences of those who worked with Markets residents from communities and care settings, and with the companies who were gaining important experience of testing their technology in real-life settings.
Speaking ahead of the showcase, Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Tina Black explained: “Chronic loneliness affects one in 20 people here. And we have a rapidly ageing population, so there’s a strong motivation across our region to improve the care of older adults and help them to live life to the full.
“Through our Smart Belfast programme, Belfast City Council is committed to working with industry and our universities to unlock the benefits of digital technologies for our residents. The Homes for Healthy Ageing programme is a great practical example of this. We’re working with universities and innovation tech companies to trial new ways of reducing loneliness and enhancing social connectedness in our ageing population.”
Professor Joan Condell, Ulster University and Lead Partner of the Northern Ireland consortium, added: “With the over-65 demographic set to rise to one quarter of the UK population by 2050, the Homes for Healthy Ageing programme has a vital role to play in informing and accelerating innovation that supports a healthier future for everyone.
“The strength and depth of the local consortium will be of great benefit to the active community of businesses addressing the needs of healthy ageing through their products and services. As the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, the consortium sees the Markets testbed in Belfast’s Smart District as a great opportunity to position our region as a centre for innovation and research, addressing key societal challenges.”
The Homes for Healthy Ageing showcase is being hosted by a consortium led by Ulster University with Age NI, Belfast City Council, Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), the Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland (HIRANI), the Market Development Association (MDA), Public Health Agency (PHA) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). They’re working in partnership with Connected Places Catapult on a new programme to build a healthier future for the UK.
Over the coming months, Connected Places Catapult will work with the small businesses which have engaged with the Healthy Ageing Programme to develop and refine their experiment plans, as well as offering support to engage with end-users.
For more information on how Belfast is harnessing innovation to tackle urban challenges, go to www.smartbelfast.city