Stakeholder cooperation on active an healthy ageing (AHA) has been gathering new momentum since December 2015, when Commissioner Günther Oettinger delivered his Opening Speech at the 2015 Conference of Partners of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing. He outlined how digital innovation, enabled by the Digital Single Market, can turn demographic change into real opportunity for Europe's economy and society.
The Commissioner called upon stakeholders to create a "Blueprint" together, containing their shared vision on health and care innovation in the Digital Single Market.
Commissioner Oettinger also launched a new Call for Reference Sites that would create the foundations for this digital single market of innovation for active and healthy ageing. Reference Sites are regional alliances between government authorities, industry, start-ups, research organisations and civil society recognised for their excellence in deploying digitally-enabled products and services to meet the needs of ageing populations.
I am impressed by the huge response we had to this Call for Reference Sites. With almost 100 applications received, its success is unprecedented. This summer, after a detailed peer-review evaluation, 74 European regions (a record number!) have been awarded the title of 'Reference Sites of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing' (EIP on AHA).
4 billion euros over the next three years
The selected 74 reference sites have committed to invest € 4 billion in digital innovation for AHA over the next three years, reaching over 5 million people, mostly the elderly population and their carers.
I am proud that the European Commission is supporting and enabling this network of Reference Sites, because without their involvement we wouldn't have been able to deliver on our policy vision.
I would like to stress that, as all the other activities of the EIP on AHA, the Reference Sites scheme is a purely voluntary initiative. These regional alliances want to participate in the network because they see tangible benefits from it. Namely, they all:
Face a major challenge; costs for looking after the ageing population are spiralling, so current health and care models are not sustainable;
Share the view that digital innovation is an important part of the response to that challenge, contributing to quality of life, efficiency in health and care provision, as well as economic growth and jobs;
Believe that, through sharing and cooperation across regions and activity sectors, they can innovate and implement proven digital health and care solutions.
Blueprint on digital transformation of health and care
In the meantime our road towards the creation of a digital single market for innovation in health and care continues:
On 27 September, at the AAL Forum 2016, a group of stakeholders representing industry and regional authorities presented the initial draft of the Blueprint on Digital Transformation of Health and Care, the shared-vision for the future called upon by Commissioner Oettinger. The draft Blueprint is now available, please have your say on it through a survey.
The final version of the Blueprint will be handed to Commissioner Oettinger at the next European Summit on Active and Healthy Ageing (5-8 December) this year. At the same event, the Commissioner will also chair the award ceremony for the 74 winning Reference Sites.
This year's Summit will be another good occasion to showcase the value of the Digital Single Market for people, public services and the economy, while mobilising all stakeholders around a shared vision of how digital can transform our health and care services for the better.