Topic / Target
> Healthy living and active ageing KIC
Health, demographic change and well-being have been identified as major societal challenges which will be addressed within the framework of Horizon 2020. The overarching aims of any action to address this challenge should be to improve the quality of life of European citizens of all ages and to maintain economic sustainability of the health and social care systems in the face of increasing costs, shrinking human resources and citizens' expectations for the best care possible.
The challenges relating to the health and social care sectors are numerous and closely interlinked. They range from chronic diseases (cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes) together with overweight and obesity, infectious (HIV/AIDS, tuber culosis) and neurodegenerative diseases (exacerbated by an increasingly ageing population), to social isolation, reduced wellbeing, increased dependency of patients on formal and informal care, and multiple exposure to environmental
factors with unknown long-term health consequences. In addition, barriers to the application, exploitation and deployment of new findings, products and services prevent effective responses to those challenges.
The response to these challenges has been defined in Horizon 2020 as aiming "to provide better health, quality of life and general wellbeing for all by supporting research and innovation activities. These activities will focus on the maintenance and promotion of health throughout our lifetimes, and on disease prevention; on improving our ability to cure, treat and manage disease and disability; supporting active ageing; and on contributing to the achievement of a sustainable and efficient care sector, including local and regional services and the adaptation of cities and their
facilities for an ageing population."
RELEVANCE AND IMPACT
A KIC on innovation for Healthy Living and Active Ageing will help meeting Horizon 2020 priorities, namely those defined in the context of the societal challenge "Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing".
This thematic field is highly relevant from a societal and public policy point of view. Questions of healthy living and active ageing have a bearing on nearly all sectors of our lives and society, and very often call for regulatory action.
The health and social care sector is also highly relevant from a socio-economic perspective, since it is one of the sectors on which most money is spent (public and private); and the sector does not only offer opportunities for economic and technological innovation, it also has a great potential for social innovation. Ageing population is a challenge for public services and requires for example the development and improvement of local services and urban adaptation.
The socio-economic relevance can be further underlined by the fact that Europe benefits from the presence of a solid pharmaceutical sector and well-developed health and social care systems providing jobs to millions of people across the Union. The sector is also one of the biggest high-tech manufacturing sectors in the Union. The potential for growth in these areas is very high since an ageing society means an increase of aggregated demand for care and independent living products and services.
Other sectors also come into play, such as tourism. The ageing population is formed to a large extent by a generation which is used to travel and is still willing to travel, has high quality demands, and hence has a growing need of accessible services (transport, hotels, entertainment etc). More accessible tourism services can boost the competitiveness of the whole sector and would promote further inclusion of the ageing population.
Not least, the Union benefits from a world-class level of research and education in this area. In many Member States excellent research infrastructures and institutions do exist which provide an attractive basis for industry involvement in the planned activities of the EIT.
The challenges related to healthy living are valid across Europe. The responses, which can be provided by a KIC, require intensive co-operation between excellent, multidisciplinary and multi-sector teams with participants from all sectors of the knowledge triangle (higher education, research and innovation). A KIC on this theme would have the added value of linking the activities of innovation and higher education with the already existing excellent research base. In doing so, it will put particular emphasis on higher education curricula, new skills development (needed e.g. for technology development but also for elderly care), strengthening entrepreneurial aspects in order to foster the development of a highly entrepreneurial workforce in the area, to support the development of new products and services, and to strengthen existing value chains or even create new ones.
Examples of potential products and services that could be created through a KIC go beyond technology applications (such as applications that treat, code, standardise and interpret data in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases; or tools for risk assessment and early detection), and could trigger social innovation with new concepts improving for example lifestyle management and nutrition, fostering active and independent living in an age-friendly environment, or maintaining economically sustainable care systems.
Focusing on the systemic aspects of European health and social care systems and support to active ageing, a KIC on this thematic field would also include a stronger co-operation between large and smaller, more specialised, firms for greater knowledge circulation. In addition, a specific added value a KIC could provide in this area could be the creation of innovative partnerships at the local level which is of particular importance in the services sector.
Through its integrative approach to the knowledge triangle, a KIC on healthy living and active ageing would be therefore a key contributor to addressing the 'European paradox': adding value to the Union's excellent position in scientific research, and transforming this asset into innovative products and services, and new business opportunities and markets.
The major risks associated to the success of a KIC under this theme are mainly related to the necessary accompanying innovation and policy regulatory framework conditions, which could require some adaptations KICs are not directly aiming at addressing. Therefore KICs need to liaise with ongoing Union and national innovation and policy activities on these matters.
SYNERGIES AND COMPLEMENTARITIES WITH EXISTING INITIATIVES
Health and active ageing related issues are strongly supported by many Union initiatives. Such initiatives encompass a broad range of policy domains in addition to the health sector, such as economy, security and the environment. They therefore indirectly contribute to such targets of Europe 2020 as R&D/Innovation, employment and social inclusion.
A KIC on innovation for healthy living and active ageing will closely co-operate with the pilot European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Active and Healthy Ageing. It will take into account the concrete actions presented in the EIP Strategic Innovation Plan and contribute to delivering its objectives. It will create complementarity in education and training key actors, but also in providing a unique structured network of practitioners well placed to identify framework conditions and best practise on policy, regulatory or standardisation issues having an impact in the sector. In the context of the EIP, a KIC in this area can also contribute to the Lead Market Initiative – eHealth which aims at stimulating the market for innovative eHealth solutions through its focus on policy instruments (standardisation, certification systems and public procurement).
Coordination will be also fostered with the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) to boost research on Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, and the JPI "More Years, Better Lives" - the potential and challenges of demographic change and the JPI "A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life". A KIC in this area will speed up and foster the exploitation of excellent public research pooled together by these JPIs, and thereby address fragmentation in the innovation land scape.
A KIC will also strongly build on and capitalise upon the major research results of the Joint Technology Initiative on Innovative Medicines and of the numerous framework programme research projects addressing this thematic field (such as the health research programme or the ICT research activities on health and ageing) to boost technology transfer and commercialisation via entrepreneurial top talent. Likewise, it will coordinate with the work of the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.
In conclusion, a KIC in this area would be complementary to these activities since it would focus on transdisciplinary activities within the knowledge triangle with a strong focus on innovative products and services and entrepreneurial education.
A KIC which focuses on the broader issue of innovation for healthy living and active ageing meets the criteria put forward for the selection of KIC themes:
- It addresses a major economic and societal relevant challenge (lifelong health and wellbeing of all, while main taining economically sustainable care systems), and contributes to the delivery of the Europe 2020 agenda and its objectives on employment, innovation, education and social inclusion.
- This KIC focus is aligned with priorities defined in Horizon 2020 and complementary with other Union activities in the health and social care areas, in particular with the corresponding JPIs and the EIP on Active and Healthy Ageing.
- It can build on a strong research base and on a solid industrial sector which will be attracted by a KIC. It is able to mobilise investment and long-term commitment from the business sector and offers possibilities for various emerging products and services.
- It will address the European paradox, since it will capitalise the Union's strong research base and find new innovative approaches to improve the quality of life of European citizens and to maintain economic sustainability of the health and social care systems.
- It creates sustainable and systemic impact, measured in terms of new educated entrepreneurial people, new technologies and new business. It will foster new technological developments and social innovation.
- It aims at overcoming the high level of fragmentation of the whole health and social care sector; and will bring together a critical mass of excellent research, innovation, education and training stakeholders along the sector.
- It takes a systemic approach and thus requires transdisciplinary work involving different areas of knowledge, such as medicine, biology, psychology, economy, sociology, demography and ICT.