The Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, announced recently £2.5 million in EU funding to create a new research hub at Swansea University, aimed at growing the global market for age-related products and services.
The project builds on Swansea University’s world-leading research expertise in ageing, health and life sciences, and will be delivered in partnership with the University of South Wales and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
The Institute of Creative Ageing Industries will be based at Swansea University’s Singleton Park campus, and will work with the creative industries sector in Wales to address the challenges affecting the leisure and working lives of older people.
It will include a living lab which will recreate and mimic real life factors affecting the ageing population, and put older people at the centre of evolving and testing prototype products, environments and services.
The Institute will create new research posts, and will focus on 3 key areas:
- Developing prototype experiences, products and services which boost health and wellbeing
- Co-creating effective designs for age-friendly and dementia-supportive places
- Discovering what’s needed to provide age-friendly work places in the creative industries.
As part of the project, the University is also aiming to secure a minimum of £4.5 million additional research income and industry investment.
Jeremy Miles said:
Thanks to improvements in health care, housing and living standards, and better awareness of self-care, people are living longer. There are now more people of pensionable age than there are children under 16.
There are obvious advantages to working so closely with older people, not only because they are themselves the end users, but also because they can contribute wisdom gained through life experience, and insight learned over the years.
This fresh and original research will put Wales at the head of the global market for age-related products and services, while crafting big ideas to support our senior citizens. EU funds continue to play a vital part in modernising our economy, and boosting productivity by extending and improving active lives.
Dr Charles Musselwhite, co-project leader and Interim Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University, said:
We are delighted to be establishing what we believe is a truly unique venture. We have an ageing population who could really benefit from products and services developed by our creative industry sector in Wales including arts, crafts, media, broadcasting and smart and innovative technologies.
We will create space for businesses and entrepreneurs to work closely with older people, charities, policy-makers and practitioners, co-creating prototypes that could become new products and services for an ageing population.
We do this through a living lab approach utilising a hub and spoke model. The hub will contain, as far as we know, the world’s first dedicated Daily Living Facility for older people, a mock-up of a room that can be changed between living space, dining room and kitchen to develop and test products, a virtual reality suite and a break out café lab.
The spokes include community spaces such as care homes, community centres, cafes and clubs to test and develop products and services. We hope to make Wales the best place in the world to grow old in, and a leading light in creative industries for an ageing population.
Since 2007, EU-funded projects in Wales have created 48,500 jobs and 13,000 new businesses, while assisting 26,000 businesses and helping 89,000 people into employment.