EC unleashes €600m for development of new digital solutions for the elderly

By 2020, 25% of the EU's population will be over 65. To respond to this growing demographic challenge, the Council of Ministers approved today a Commission plan to make Europe a hub for developing digital technologies designed to help older people to continue living independently at home. The proposal, presented by the Commission on 14 June 2007, will provide some additional €150 million funding to a new European Joint Research Programme, resulting in a total investment of over €600 million.

Through this new 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. Smart devices for improving security at home, mobile solutions for vital sign monitoring and user friendly interfaces for those with impaired vision or hearing – all of which will improve the quality of life of elderly people, their careers and families. The plan had already been approved by the European Parliament on 13 March in a first reading (Rapporteur: Neena Gill). 20 EU Member States, as well as Israel, Norway and Switzerland will participate in this Joint Research Programme.

"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.

The countries participating in this new EU Joint Research Programme are: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom as well as Israel, Norway and Switzerland. Lithuania has also expressed its interest to join.

The participation in the Joint Research Programme (called "Ambient Assisted Living" Programme) adopted on the 24th June 2008, is the result of the European Union's commitment to work towards an all inclusive information society. Greater online accessibility is at the same time one of the objectives of the Commission action plan "Ageing Well in the Information Society"

Between now and 2013, the Commission, the EU Member States and the private sector will together invest more than €1 billion in research and innovation for ageing well, including €600 million from the new Joint Research Programme and €400 million from the EU's seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

Examples of innovators of digital solutions

  • MobilAlarm European market validation project of a location-independent mobile alarm and tele-care service for older and disabled people.
  • I2HOME The scope of I2HOME is the Intuitive Interaction for Everyone with Home Appliances based on Industry Standards. In this way I2HOME will make devices and appliances at home more accessible to persons with mild cognitive disabilities and older persons, using a new mainstream user interface standard – the Universal Remote Console (URC) standard.