€1bn EU IT strategy aimed at golden oldies

15 Jun 2007

As 25pc of the EU population is expected to be over the age of 65 by 2020, the European Commission plans to invest over €1bn in ICT research aimed at improving their quality of life.

The funding accompanies a new plan, entitled ‘Ageing Well in the Information Society’, using technology to help pensioners stay active and live better for longer.

With over 21pc of those over 50 suffering from serious visual, aural or mobility problems this is seen to contribute to the lack of uptake of IT by older people.

Research and innovation in products like BT’s Balance System, a laptop that can be navigated by the mobility challenged, can help integrate older members of society into the digital age.

The economic benefits of investing in Europe’s ageing population can be realised through ICT business opportunities, providing products and services that compliment a pensioner’s lifestyle requirements.

With a combined worth of over €3,000bn, the over-65s are an important consumer segment for the IT sector.

On the other hand, the amount of GDP spent on pension plans and healthcare is expected to increase to between 4pc and 8pc in the next few decades, creating a need for technology aimed at improving the heath and quality of life for the elderly.

“Europe’s aging population is a challenge for our job market and its social and health systems. But it is also an economic and social opportunity. ICT will provide new and more accessible products and services that meet the needs of older people,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media.

“These two initiatives will mobilise digital technologies that will improve the daily lives and social participation of older people and create new opportunities for Europe’s industry.”

By Marie Boran