A new accelerator programme aimed at businesses with the potential to develop solutions to the challenges faced by an ageing population has been launched, offering £12,500 of investment and 6 months office space in the Biosphere building on Newcastle Helix.
Working with the National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle City Council and Northstar Ventures, the Innovation SuperNetwork kicked-off a new challenge-based programme at VentureFest North East last month.
Graham Armitage Deputy Director: Innovation and Partnerships, Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, said: “Increasing life expectancy from better healthcare, diet and living conditions is the greatest recent achievement in our society. The North East though is living proof that not everyone experiences ageing in the same way and some people experience complex and wide-ranging challenges in maintaining an independent, happy and healthy life as they get older.”
A series of half-day workshops are planned with interested individuals, businesses, researchers and experts to better understand the opportunities identified and begin generating solutions. The first of four events will take place on Thursday 13 December at Discovery Museum, Newcastle – interested participants can register to attend via Eventbrite – https://ageingws1.eventbrite.co.uk.
Simon Green, CEO of the Innovation SuperNetwork, added: “A significant proportion of businesses that could offer potential solutions don’t immediately identify themselves as operating in ageing specifically. Yet, by bringing in new thinking and encouraging individuals and businesses across multiple sectors to consider ageing as an opportunity, there’s the chance for new ventures to be formed.
“This is an exciting opportunity for anyone with bright ideas that could impact positively on how society ages. This could be as a result of a technological innovation, but it could be down to a simple idea that enables individuals to move more easily, maintaining their physical and mental capacity to live independently.”
The workshop will describe the wider context around ageing but will focus on a few key areas where opportunities for businesses could be seen. The event will go through the challenges faced by individuals, what they mean in practice and what commercial models for solutions could look like.
The accelerator programme seeks to support the formation of eight new businesses to take forward the ideas coming out of the workshops. Northstar Ventures are offering £12,500 of investment to help each of the newly formed companies to develop a commercial proposition around the solution. Office space in the Biosphere building on Newcastle Helix is also being offered by Newcastle City Council.
The Innovation SuperNetwork and NICA will provide additional support for each business, which could include support in producing development plans for products and services, supplier identification, building teams with the right expertise and developing a commercial model.
NICA have also launched an online forum for collaboration where ideas can be explored and new connections made. For more information and to register, visit https://nica-collaboration.crowdicity.com/.
The Innovation SuperNetwork is the brand of a project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund: Catalysing Innovation in North East Clusters, which is receiving up to £1.24m of ERDF as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.