EU approves plan to accelerate elderly-friendly ICT

24 Jun 2008

An additional €150m will be spent by the EU to make Europe a hub for developing assistive digital technologies for elderly people, bringing to over €600m the amount earmarked for this area.

Through a new European Joint Research Programme, companies will be able to develop highly innovative digital products and services to improve the lives of older people at home, in the workplace and in society in general. Technologies will incorporate smart devices for improving security at home, mobile solutions for vital sign monitoring and user-friendly interfaces for those with impaired vision or hearing.

The plan was approved by the European Parliament on 13 March and was yesterday approved by the Council of Ministers.

“There is no reason for older people in Europe to miss out on the benefits of new technologies. The solutions and services resulting from this programme will help them to remain active in society as well as staying socially connected and independent for a longer time,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media.

“Being part of the €1bn to be spent by the EU, member states and the private sector in research and innovation in this area, this programme will help European companies respond better to the needs of our elders, open major new business opportunities and offer solutions to help public authorities make our health and social care systems sustainable in the future.”

Some 20 member states, along with Norway, Israel and Switzerland, will participate in the Joint Research Programme.

Between now and 2013, the European Commission, the EU member states and the private sector will together invest more than €1bn in research and innovation for ageing well, including €600m from the new Joint Research Programme and €400m from the EU’s seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The main aims are to generate significant cost-savings in health and social care, create a strong industrial hub for ICT and ageing in Europe and make a better quality of life for elderly people.

Europe is well placed to become a lead market for these type of assistive technologies, creating worldwide opportunities for European ICT companies.

By Niall Byrne