One year ago, the UK Government launched its modern Industrial Strategy: a long-term plan to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the country. And we are embracing the challenges that our world presents to us.

We’re focusing on four key areas where Britain can lead the world in the coming technological revolution. These ‘Grand Challenges’ – in the artificial intelligence and data-driven revolution, the global shift to clean growth, the future of mobility (in the way that people, goods and services move around the world), and the opportunity of our ageing society – are being tackled by the best from the public and private sector. Doing so will put the UK at forefront of the industries of the future.

Delivering on the Ageing Society Grand Challenge will help UK citizens remain independent for longer, continue to participate through work and within their communities and stay connected to others to counter loneliness.

Innovation in age-related products and services can make a significant difference to UK productivity and individuals’ wellbeing and will present a great economic opportunity as we see a growing global market.

 

Age and our economy

 

Ageing also presents significant challenges to the economy, including greater caring demands on those of working age and increased health and social care costs. Without action, an ageing population could reduce the size of our workforce and lead to lower productivity.

If we succeed, we will create an economy which works for everyone, regardless of age. A new generation of British businesses will be thriving in the growing global market for age-related products and services.

The Ageing Society Grand Challenge mission — specific time-bound goals to galvanise and inspire transformational action — is to ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest.

A vibrant and inclusive market for products and jobs is an important part of this. The Grand Challenge aims to harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society and realise the business opportunity for the UK.

 

Health and wealth

 

There remains a stark difference between people in deprived communities and those living more affluently. People in the poorest communities have more years living with a health condition that significantly impacts on their lives, compared to the most affluent. In England this is 17.3 years for men and 16.4 years for women. The mission aims to address inequalities in outcomes.

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), government is already investing nearly £300 million to bring together the UK’s world-class research expertise with business investment to develop technologies and industries that can help the UK prepare for the challenge of an ageing society.

As part of the funding, £98 million will support ‘healthy ageing’ by stimulating well-designed innovations that support people to enjoy active and independent lives for longer.

 

Already changing lives throughout the UK

 

One company helping to achieve this is NquiringMinds, a British company that specialises in the field of artificial intelligence and the ‘Internet of Things’.  In partnership with the University of Southampton, Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council, NquiringMinds has developed a technical platform called CareTeam that is all about making aged care more collaborative.

 

A new kind of care via an app

 

At the centre of the CareTeam platform is an app that integrates the help from friends, family and neighbours along with the professional carers. The app allows an invited circle of trusted people to share important information such as medications and appointments in a secure platform. 

 

Artificial intelligence powered care

 

There are three primary areas where NquiringMinds applies AI to the challenge of the Ageing Society:

 
  • Sensor analytics

 Using AI algorithms and simple sensors, such as energy monitors and infra-red movement sensors, the CareTeam system spots anomalies in a person’s behaviour and alerts their carers if there is a significant change, e.g. if they haven’t made their cup of tea at the usual time.

 
  • Self-learning workflow

 The CareTeam system also uses analytics to gather insight on patterns in care and behaviour, which can then be used to plan future care needs. Through these insights and analytics, the platform helps to continuously monitor and improve the quality of care.

 
  • Social care insights

 All local councils are continually generating and storing data on the cost and quality of social care provided. With the help of AI algorithms that can analyse trends, detect anomalies and predict patterns, this data can be used to better plan the provision of social care.

Similar approaches as the ones used for CareTeam could be used to transform the whole social care sector in the future.