Reference Sites

What are Reference Sites?

Reference Sites are inspirational ecosystems, delivering creative and workable solutions that improve the lives and health of older people. These solutions can now be scaled-up and replicated across the EU.

The Sites are regions, cities, integrated hospitals or care organisations that focus on a comprehensive, innovation-based approach to active and healthy ageing. They offer concrete examples of their positive impact in this field. Reference Sites demonstrate synergies between different actions, breakthrough solutions within a short time frame, and the added value of taking a holistic approach.

In the European Summit on Digital Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing 2016, 74 Reference Sites were awarded as leading regional organisations committed to investing in innovation for active and healthy ageing and supporting the transfer and scaling-up of that innovation across Europe. In total, the network of Reference Sites represents an overall investment commitment of over € 4 billion (2016-2018) in the deployment and scaling-up of digital innovation for active and healthy ageing, improving the lives of over 5 million people.



Geographic coverage EIP on AHA Reference Sites

The current EIP on AHA Reference Sites are displayed in the picture. For more information, please access the EIP on AHA Policy Dashboard.


Why become a Reference Site?

The benefits of becoming a Reference Site are considerable.

For many Reference Sites, the recognition of their leadership acts as a catalyst for growth in their region. It brings stakeholders on board who work collaboratively in developing innovative solutions, thereby ensuring a whole system approach.

Networking is a fundamental part of being a Reference Site. Reference Sites are pioneering some of the most advanced innovative digital solutions that improve the lives of ageing populations, and have created strong links between themselves. This collaboration enables sites to share good practices and build collaboration across borders in a way that maximises outcomes and reduces the risks associated with investing in innovation.

Reference Sites automatically become members of the Reference Sites Collaborative Network (RSCN). Through the Network, Reference Sites identify any gaps that exist between regional health systems, and can compare their own performance and results with those of other regions.

During the period 2018-2020, a wide range of high impact activities will be announced. A series of thematic workshops will be organised by the RSCN in the frame of the WE4AHA coordination and support action, as of June 2018, on topics of high interest for any actor in the European innovation ecosystem. A public call for thematic workshop 2019 was launched. 

Moreover, new rounds of twinning pairs are currently ongoing in 2019 and further calls will be launched in 2020. A new Call for Reference Sites is currently open until the 30th June 2019. Information on how to apply, including terms of references and themes of the calls, will be regularly uploaded on the EIP on AHA portal. 

To obtain more information on regions awarded Reference Site status, you can consult the RSCN website or contact

Keep you updated on Reference Sites activities through the RSCN newsletter.

RSCN Newsletter Issue 1, October 2018

RSCN Newsletter Issue 2, December 2018

RSCN Newsletter Issue 3, March/April 2019


What is the Reference Sites Collaborative Network?

The RSCN is a non-profit association, based in Brussels, that creates synergies and shares experiences between Reference Sites. The Network aims to identify evidence-based good practice in Health and Care strategies and policies and service delivery models. Its main aim is to strengthen collaboration within the Reference Sites community and with other organisations so as to develop projects and initiatives. The Network brings together all the Reference Sites of the EIP on AHA in Europe, in a permanent forum aiming at promoting cooperation among regions. It plays a very important role in sharing experiences and developing common policies and strategies for health promotion and improvement of innovative approach to care. 

More specifically the RSCN has been created to:

  • Facilitate support for members in developing, promoting, sharing and adopting good practice and innovative solutions and technologies at scale.
  • Influence and provide strategic input to bodies such as the EC, WHO, building on the knowledge and expertise of regional members.
  • Provide thought leadership through expert working groups integrated with the AGs of the EIP on AHA, and participate in international projects.
  • Provide a range of advisory and management services to members.

For more information, visit

Do you wish to receive the RSCN newsletter? You can contact, to sign up and receive the RSCN newsletters and be up-to-date.


What are the conditions to become a Reference Site?

Reference Site candidates must apply and provide evidence of innovative components of their care model/systems that can serve as an illustration of good practice to other regions. Robust proof of sites’ impact on the ground, and presentation of sound indicators, are required and are evaluated so as to be awarded the status of Reference Site. Indicators must be aligned with the indicators supported by the Monitoring and Assessment Framework of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (MAFEIP) and grouped under "Quality of life", "Sustainability of healthcare systems" and "Economic growth and jobs". Calls are open every 3 years.

Sites are expected to be actively engaged in the scaling up/replicability process of digital transformation by submitting good practices to the EIP on AHA Repository of Innovative Practices.

Sites make a forward-looking commitment to invest in innovation for active and healthy ageing over a 3-year period (currently this is 2016-2018) and share the results with the Reference Sites’ community.

The 3rd Call for Reference Sites is currently underway and will be open until the 30th June 2019. The first Call for Reference Sites was launched in 2016. If you wish to get updated information on the next call, you can write an e-mail to


What is next?

The EIP on AHA are pleased to announce the launch of the 3rd Call for Reference SitesThe Call aims to provide regions and areas across Europe with the opportunity to identify and explore proven examples of innovation and become exemplars of good policy and practice related to active and healthy ageing.

More detailed information about the Call is available.   

The 2019 Call for Twinnings Support Scheme is still underway and will close on the 15th June. The objective is to facilitate the deployment of large-scale digitally-enabled innovative solutions for health and care delivery for older adults.

Participating organisations can claim up to € 5,000 in financial support for each twinning action. The sum will cover the travel and accommodation of experts from the adopting organisation to the originator organisation or vice-versa. It will also include the expenses related to the hosting of meetings.

More detailed information including the Terms of Reference are available.

In the Call for EIP on AHA Reference Sites’ Thematic Workshops 2019 seven applications have been submitted. The evaluation procedures for granting the two thematic workshops has been carried out by peer reviewers representing organisations members of the EIP on AHA supported by the WE4AHA team. 

For 2019 the awarded thematic workshops are:

“Implementing a comprehensive approach to integrated care” submitted by Federico II University Hospital/Campania Reference Site on behalf of the Italian Reference Sites.

“5G enabling digital transformation in health and care” submitted by OuluHealth Reference Site.

The two selected workshops will receive financial support of up to a maximum of 5,000 euros each

All workshop proposals not selected for financial support will nevertheless be supported by WE4AHA to enhance their visibility and make evidence public of the results achieved.