A record 74 regions from across Europe - from Oulu, Finland, to Heraklion-Crete, Greece and from Andalucía, Spain to Olomouc, Czech Republic - have been awarded the status of Reference Sites, as part of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. (EIP on AHA ). They were selected through a process of applications and detailed peer-review based on the Call for Reference Sites 2016, which assessed their commitment to invest in, deploy and transfer innovative digital solutions for active and healthy ageing.
The title of "Reference sites" means that regional alliances – that encompass government authorities, industry and start-ups, research organisations and civil society – are recognised for demonstrating excellence in the implementation and scaling up of the most innovative products and services designed to meet the needs of their ageing populations. Together the 74 reference sites have committed to invest over € 4 billion in the next three years in the deployment and scaling up of digital innovation for active and healthy ageing (AHA). Targeting the digitally-enabled services in digital health and connected care, this investment is expected to benefit over 5 million people in the next 3 years. It will also lay the foundations for a scalable EU market for digital innovation services and products meeting the needs of Europe's ageing population and their carers.
In December, Gunther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, will host a special ceremony in Brussels, at the second European Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing, to hand the Reference Site award to these standout regions excelling in innovation for active and healthy ageing.
€4 Billion investment
Cumulatively, the Reference Sites commit to invest more than € 4 billion in three main areas of digital innovation:
- digitally-enabled platforms for chronic disease management,
- tools for integrating hospital care and community / social care, and
- programmes for upgrading tele-health and tele-care solutions into highly performant digitally-enabled home-care systems, suitable to support independent living and quality of life of the ageing population.
This figure is calculated on the basis of individual declarations for 2016-2019 included in the applications submitted by the reference sites in response to the 2016 Call for Reference Sites of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing.
About the Reference Sites of the EIP on AHA
The Reference Sites network was initially established in 2013 as part of the EIP on AHA. Over 3 years it has doubled in size, as more regions recognise the benefits of investing in digital innovation for active and healthy ageing. Increasingly, public authorities look to digitally-enabled solutions to sustain access to and deliver on quality health and care to an ageing population, and to address the increased pressure on public health and care spending. In doing so, they contribute to a thriving market for active and healthy ageing products and services, where dynamic European industry and SMEs can grow.
Scaling-Up Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing
The European Scaling-up Strategy in Active and Healthy Ageing provides a roadmap for action enabling the European Commission to support the Reference Sites' commitment and achieve the following goals:
- Reach over 50 regions actively implementing large-scale, sustainable and digitally-enabled innovation for active and healthy ageing,
- Reach a total of € 500 million new investment in digital innovation for health and care – matching € 250 million from public R&I investments with another € 250 million from private investment,
- Reach an additional 4 million people across Europe, benefiting from innovative digital solutions for active and healthy ageing.
The Scaling-up Strategy aims in particular to:
Identify Transferable Innovative Practices: In May 2016, the European Innovative Practices Platform was launched containing the most innovative, tested and transferable practices in AHA innovation. It is designed to accelerate, and limit the risk of, investments in deployment of digital innovation for AHA.
Enable Large-Scale Deployment: In September 2016, the EIP on AHA Digital Innovation Deployment Twinning Scheme will provide those Reference Sites that have established clear investment strategies an opportunity to learn from each other and benefit from knowledge sharing with more experienced Reference Sites. This should help reduce risks associated with the implementation of large-scale sustainable programmes and also boost the use of EU structural funds for active and healthy ageing.
In November 2016 two projects funded by Horizon 2020 to support large- scale deployment of innovation will also start:
- A large-scale pilot project on smart and age-friendly living environments based on the internet of things (IoT). The EU will invest €20 million from Horizon 2020 in this initiative, which will involve 7 different EU regions and 7.000 people.
- A Public Procurement for Innovation project which will co-finance the procurement of innovative services for active and healthy ageing. The project will bring together public procurers from different EU countries and leverage €13 million of total investment, of which € 4.6 million from EU funding.
Measure and share evidence of Socio-Economic Impact of Digital Innovation: In early 2017, the European Commission will present a monitoring framework, developed in cooperation with stakeholders, to measure the socio economic impact of investments in digital innovation. This will assess both improvements in health and quality of life of the population as well as in efficiency and sustainability of health and social care systems in Europe.
In his Opening Speech at the 2015 Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, on 9 December 2015, Commissioner Oettinger outlined how digital innovation, enabled by a functioning Digital Single Market, can transform demographic change into an opportunity for Europe's economy and society. He announced the Call for Reference Sites awarded today, and called upon all stakeholders to start working with the European Commission to develop a "shared vision" as a blueprint for how a Digital Single Market can stimulate innovation to transform Europe's ageing society in the 21st Century.
This shared vision will be discussed at the second European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing (5-8 December 2016). This flagship event is organised by the European Commission in partnership with the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions. It will bring together over 1500 participants engaged in developing, investing in and deploying digital innovation for active and healthy ageing.
The Reference Sites of the EIP on AHA – list of Reference Sites at bottom of webpage