Innovation in an ageing society

Brussels, 18-19 December 2008

Ageing is not a novel topic within economic and policy research, but this research has tended to focus on macro-economic implications (pensions, healthcare financing, etc.) and development and forecasts of science applied to problems of ageing (gerontotechnology). Many broader issues are raised.

In regard to healthcare and ageing, it appears that numerous scientific breakthroughs have occurred or are expected to occur. Some of these innovations confront problems in terms of widespread uptake, because of financial constraints or need for reform in welfare institutions. It is sometimes difficult to picture how, and by whom, these new technologies will be produced, commercialised and financed. New technologies, especially dealing with healthcare or dependency, may require new business models and social settings.

But innovation issues should not be limited to illness and disability concerns. Older people are keen consumers of services such as culture, entertainment, tourism, financial services, etc. We can expect them to be more exacting customers; quite possibly they will be more engaged consumers and active “prosumers”. This may imply the development of new market segments where innovation will play a great role in providing high-quality products and services whose design is targeted to older populations.

This Inno-Policy Workshop took place on the 18th and 19th of December 2008. Various presentations are available (see below) as well as the workshop report.

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