A Northern Ireland consortium is leading on innovative approaches to tackling isolation and loneliness in older people as part of the £2.5 million Connected Places Catapult ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing’ Programme.

The consortium – made up of Age NI, Belfast City Council, Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC), Markets Development Association (MDA), Public Health Agency NI, Queen’s University Belfast, The Health Innovation Research Alliance (HIRANI) and Ulster University – is one of two UK partners selected for the programme.

A new healthy ageing testbed will be set up in the Markets area of Belfast in autumn 2021, with an additional testbed in a rural location outside of the city. The testbeds will provide community-centred and real-world scenarios for local innovators to trial and develop the most promising solutions to address national challenges in healthy ageing.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Kate Nicholl commented:

“Belfast City Council is delighted to be working with Connected Places Catapult, our local universities and other partners on Homes for Healthy Ageing. With the over-65 demographic set to rise to one quarter of the UK population by 2050, this programme will work directly with people to explore their needs and to consider how the latest ideas and technologies can help. It’s a welcome opportunity to tap into world-leading research from business and universities and test these ideas in a real-life setting.

“The project is part of Belfast’s Smart district, a place where partners from industry, academia, government and communities work together to develop innovative solutions to major urban challenges associated with health, mobility and decarbonisation.”

The Northern Ireland consortium’s £50,000 funding will support a dedicated task force responsible for ensuring the effective rollout of the local testbed. As well as gaining access to the tools, user insights and know-how needed, they’ll be able to draw on the Catapult’s network of key changemakers who’ll help guide their healthy ageing strategies and drive real change for their communities.

More information

For more information, visit the Connected Places Catapult website at https://cp.catapult.org.uk/opportunity/homes-for-healthy-ageing-programme/