How to Grow the EU Silver Economy?

Europe, known as the Old Continent, will soon become the oldest continent in respect with its population ageing. How do we ensure that European citizens, as they grow old, have access to the best qualitative services and innovative solutions that respond to their needs and expectations? What barriers should be lowered to encourage businesses to develop and scale up new solutions for older people?

Technopolis Group, together with Oxford Economics, were commissioned by the European Commission to provide key information for the development of a Silver Economy Strategy for Europe. The aim of this strategy is to foster economic growth in Europe by bringing about the necessary policy changes at European, national and regional levels in discussion with relevant stakeholders. A Workshop was thus organized on 8 March in Brussels to present the preliminary results of their work and discuss their relevance.

Based on an online consultation from relevant stakeholders, 10 business cases with potential for the creation of new jobs and economic growth linked to demographic change were presented to the audience: (i) Connected health; (ii) Robotics and games; (iii) Silver tourism; (iv) Integrated care services and improved connectivity; (v) Development of an age-friendly built environment; (vi) Knowledge for active and healthy lifestyle; (vii) Age-friendly universities; (viii) Driveless cars; (ix) Olderpreneur; (x) Interactive platform to fast-track product and service development.

 

Recommendations were drawn from these scenarios on how best to stimulate an emerging Silver Economy while tackling the societal challenge of demographic change. These recommendations were divided into 5 broad topics and were discussed among the participants:

  • Support the technology and digital revolution of the healthcare sector;
  • Support healthy ageing across the EU;
  • Increase the focus on solutions for improved mobility for older people;
  • Increase the active participation of older people in the labour market;
  • Increase innovation of products and services targeted towards independent living of older people.

The policy recommendations were welcomed by the participants of the workshop; however, there was a feeling that basic actions first needed to be implemented in order to sustainably foster Silver Economy in Europe. Indeed, participants voiced the need to increase the awareness about Silver Economy among the citizens, public administrations and businesses. This would help create a greater demand from the citizens, generate public investment and convince businesses to invest in social innovation. But one should not forget to achieve this together with every stakeholder, as the co-creation issue was also mentioned as an important aspect of the Silver Economy success. Finally, interoperability was also voiced by the audience, which provides a framework for those willing to invest in Silver Economy, but it will also, in the long-term guarantee the affordability of the innovative solutions among the payers and the usability among the end-users.

The final report with the outcomes and policy recommendations will be published early May 2017. Nonetheless, you can find further information here.