The AAL programme's primary aim is to improve the living conditions of elderly people, while strengthening the international industrial opportunities for SMEs in the area of ICT. The AAL programme 2014-2020 is driven by Member States and supported by the European Commission, to enhance EU competitiveness and face the challenges brought about by an ageing society. AAL projects involve partners from at least three countries. Participating entities range from companies to research bodies and health care organisations, as well as end-user organisations representing senior citizens.
A mid-term review of the 2014-2020 AAL programme was published in October 2017. It confirmed the importance of the programme and assessed the progress achieved so far. It also highlighted areas for future development, such as even closer links with the market (including scalable business models) and further engagement of end-users to ensure the relevance and acceptance of new solutions.
Budget and achievements
The current programme has a budget of around EUR 600 million, run under Horizon 2020 – The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020). The Programme is undertaken jointly by 17 EU Member States, associated countries to Horizon 2020 (Switzerland), and Canada. Half of the funds available is publicly funded (split between Partner States and the European Commission).
For the period 2008-2017, more than 200 projects have been funded over 10 project calls and many of them have become success stories. An important asset of the programme is the strong end-user involvement in the co-design of products and services. In fact, more than 40 000 end-users were involved in the projects between 2008 and 2011. The annual AAL Forum is an opportunity for local actors, such as municipalities, regions and health and social care providers to meet and engage with SMEs and industry in the field of digital health.
The AAL programme is of relevance to all EU citizens, since our continent faces a real demographic and social challenge. It is expected that by 2060 one in three Europeans will be over 65 and the ratio of working people to the 'inactive' others will shift from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1 (source: the 2015 Ageing Report). Already by 2020 we will face up to 2 million vacancies in health and social care. The programme is highly relevant and continues to occupy a unique position in forging new forms of collaboration among various stakeholders and stimulating the creation of new markets. It occupies a unique position in the policy and funding landscape and reflects the specificities of the European situation.