SW AHSN Contributes to Successful Bid for Funding to Generate Innovation in Healthy Ageing

A groundbreaking project to generate innovation and growth to support healthy ageing has commenced. The project is receiving up to £650,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

The ‘Innovation in Healthy Ageing Project’ will support private and voluntary organisations in the medical technology and health care sectors to fund the development of new products and services which could transform how people age healthily.

The collaborative bid was led by Devon County Council, with partners South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), University of Plymouth, and the West Devon Business Information Point.

The three-year project, worth £1 million in total, will work with health care commissioners; academics; students; and businesses to research, identify and address priority challenges to healthy ageing across Devon, Torbay and Plymouth. Groups will then get together to look at these priority challenges in new ways and a Challenge Fund, open to businesses and social enterprises, will support the development of the best ideas.

A special event will be held in March 2018 to bring together all stakeholders interested in the project. Collaborative groups led by businesses and social enterprises will be invited to work up ideas for new technology, new uses for existing technology and innovative operating models. Those which have the most potential will be invited to bid for development funding under a Challenge Fund.  They will also have the opportunity to work alongside students and experts from the university and specialist business advisers.

The Challenge Fund will be open for expressions of interest in late spring 2018. Shortlisted applications will then be offered three types of support to continue developing their ideas:

  • Student placements, from a variety of specialisms across the University of Plymouth, to help develop ideas;
  • The chance to bid for a slice of the £450,000 Challenge Fund pot which could fund up to 60% of their eligible expenditure;
  • Specialist business development support to develop, protect and commercialise their Intellectual Property.

Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Those who deliver adult social care need to respond to the challenges created by an ageing population and the increasing pressure on healthcare budgets. We hope the legacy of this project will not only provide long term benefits for adult social care with the introduction of new market products, but will also help SMEs and social enterprises to be part of making the UK a global hub for innovation in healthcare.”

Stuart Monk, Interim Innovation Director at SW AHSN, said: “The SW AHSN is pleased to have supported Devon County Council in securing European funding. The project will unlock exciting innovations to transform how people age healthily. We  look forward to supporting this innovative project as a delivery partner.”

Business Information Point MD Stewart Horne said “BIP advisors we are looking forward to supporting businesses as they develop new products and services for this developing sector.”

Professor Ray Jones said “There is great scope for students from many disciplines such as nursing, medicine, engineering, computing, robotics, and design to become involved in Innovation and the developments of new products and services for healthy ageing. This is to the benefit of older people, business in Devon, and the students themselves.”

If you are an SME or social enterprise working in this sector and would like to find out how you can take part in this project, please contact

innovationinhealthyageing@devon.gov.uk or visit our partner sites:




The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, European Regional Development Fund funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding

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