Reference Sites

Meet the regional leaders who are advancing innovation for active and healthy ageing across Europe!

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.

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.

What are the conditions to become a Reference Site?

Reference Sites 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 their impact on the ground and presentation of sound indicators are needed. Indicators must be aligned notably 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 should be actively engaged in the scaling up/replicability process 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).

The first Call for Reference Sites took place in 2016. You can find more information about that call document here. To find out more about getting involved in twinning activities among Reference Sites, regional representatives should contact indicating their expertise and needs for knowledge transfer.


What is next?

The next Call for Reference Sites and a new round of twinning pairs will be launched in 2019. Regular reports mapping the RS, including their key-elements, will be released in 2019 and 2020.

To obtain more information on and contacts with the regions awarded Reference Site please consult the ScaleAHA web site: