Accessibility links

The European Commission is staging the first of a series of Open Innovation Workshops which aim to engage a powerful alliance of like-minded thought leaders, and stakeholders in a collaborative effort to kick-start a new market for smarter age-friendly housing, and innovative new product and service solutions. The RSA is contributing and we would like to invite Fellows to get involved too.

"There’s no place like home"

... Exclaims Dorothy upon her return to Kansas in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Like Dorothy, most of us have been fortunate enough to enjoy our fair share of memorable adventures along the way, and it’s always reassuring to know there’s a home waiting at the end of our respective yellow brick roads. But as we inch towards later life are our homes still fit for purpose?

According to the European Commission more than 75% of the current housing stock does not meet criteria for “age-friendliness” in terms of general accessibility, inclusive design and capacity to take advantage of emerging solutions for assisted living; which we’ll see much more of as the Internet of Things begins to realise its potential as an enabling catalyst for change.

Designs for Life

Given the prospect for significant growth of the housing market for older adults at a time of major demographic change, the Commission believes that all new homes and renovation projects should be designed to lifetime homes standards and include the opportunity to make use of digital innovations. This will require the setting down of minimum national standards based on sound evidence, developed in partnership with property, construction, IT stakeholders and financial institutions.

To this end DG Connect and DG Grow, organised an exploratory workshop in 2015 to consider what actions could be undertaken at EU level. Informed by this event the Commission is now seeking to engage multidisciplinary cross sector innovators and thought leaders in a ‘meeting of minds’ orchestrated by my organisation Creative Skills for Life, in partnership with Utrecht University and Professor Alexander Peine, a renowned gerontechnologist and author of the EU white paper on age friendly homes.

The Commission will use this outreach programme to better understand the position of stakeholders regarding the key features of smart and age-inclusive housing, taking account of specific services and physical accessibility required to enable people to remain at home when experiencing age related impairments. The roadshow will also inform development of a European Reference Framework for age friendly housing, how it could be governed and possibly certified.

The roadshow got off to a flying start at the European Commission last month, where despite the recent Brussels atrocities we had a full house of passionate outspoken stakeholders who are keen to join forces to maximise and accelerate commercial opportunities and social impact.

Here’s what Sara McKee – a social entrepreneur and founder of Evermore had to say about the Brussels event:

“This was a great gathering of Europeans determined to change the conversation from doom and gloom to ‘What if?’ A group of disruptive innovators who are no longer willing to blame the ‘system’ for failure to address the policy needs of the future. Leaders who want to collaborate, to rethink older age and radically change the opportunities for older people everywhere.”

We are now gearing up for the UK roadshow on 11 and 12 May, which will be hosted by NatWest at their central London HQ in partnership with Innovate UK, supported by Lansons Communications and Partnership 4 Change.

Meeting of Minds London

With a fantastic line up including the RSA and over 50 innovative, inspirational and influential presenters, plus open innovation workshops, networking and hospitality, the overriding objective is to take a fresh look at age friendly homes as an engine for economic growth, that will in turn enable people to live healthier, more meaningful, agile lives with dignity and autonomy.

Participants will also have the opportunity to join the Agile Ageing Alliance a social movement which aims to boost knowledge and investment in a demand-led vision for digital innovation – fostering creative, active lifestyles and social engagement in later life.

If the idea of reinventing our neighbourhoods of the future is of interest to you and your business we want to hear what Fellows have to say so do reach out and let us know why you should be involved via, You may also be interested in participating in ‘Pitch Perfect’ and winning 12 months mentoring from the bank.

The event is all-day on May 11 and 12, at Natwest HQ, Bishopsgate, London. Thanks to NatWest, there is no charge to participate, although space is limited. Email to find out more. 


Be the first to write a comment

Please login to post a comment or reply.

Don't have an account? Click here to register.