The Design Council and the Technology Strategy Board are set to launch the first element in the £2m Independence Matters initiative, which aims to develop designs and technology to help older people.
The programme will launch with the Keeping Connected Schools Challenge, which kicks off early next month. This will see schoolchildren across the UK tasked with developing briefs which will result in designs to help older people become more connected with people of other generations. The project will run until May 2011.
Running alongside this is the Home and Away strand, concluding in December 2012, which aims to develop designs or technologies that will enable older people to remain living in their homes for as long as they wish.
This strand will feature a scoping and brief development stage, which is currently under way. This will be followed by a phase involving the development and delivery of projects through the TSB’s Small Business Research Initiative delivery model.
The projects will aim to tackle issues surrounding mobility, healthy eating, staying fit and keeping connected with friends, family and the younger generation.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the TSB, says, ’We are aiming to trial innovative new ways to help people live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives. At the same time, we will be working to help UK businesses to exploit lucrative new markets by developing innovative new systems and services, which they can export around the world.’
David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, says, ’Design excels in finding new ways to solve complex social challenges – and they don’t come more important than helping our current and future ageing population to live healthy, fulfilling and independent lives.
’This is not just a “must-do” for our society. It also makes great business sense for designers, service providers and manufacturers to develop innovations to capitalise on what is a massive and growing global market.’