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Transforming ageing into an opportunity for Europe

Ilias Iakovidis and Bruno Alves from DG CONNECT at the European Commission explain how digital transformation can turn demographic change into an opportunity for Europe…

The challenges resulting from demographic change are well documented and have been moved over the years from technical to strategic and recently to political debate at the highest level. According to the 2015 Ageing Report, by 2060, one in 3 Europeans will be over 65 shifting the ratio of “working” to “inactive” population; from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1. Increased demand for health and care services due to the ageing population will not only increase the public spending but also lead to an acute shortage of labour supply in the caring services (estimated to be in the order of 20 million by 2025). Unless we act now, our social and economic models as well as the quality of life of our population is at risk.

Changing the conversation

Our vision is to turn the demographic change crisis into an opportunity for Europe. We have embarked on a journey to accelerate the benefits of digital innovation to improve the quality of life of individuals, supporting sustainability of health and care services and at the same time achieving economic growth in ‘Silver Economy’ sectors that serve unmet needs of our ageing population.

The increase of smart connected homes which can support active ageing and independent living solutions will reach 29.7 million homes in the EU by 2020. This represents an annual market worth of €15.4bn. Technology-based long-term care and home healthcare are forecasted to grow 18.8 % between 2015 and 2020, representing a global market value of $10.3bn. The sales of service robots for domestic tasks could reach 15.5 million units in 2016, with an estimated value of $ 5.6bn. All these areas have significant potential and will enable the type of transformation we seek to achieve in the way we deliver health and care to our ageing population.

The global spending power of the “baby boomer” generation will reach €13 trillion by 2020. Recognising the potential of the ageing consumer, the European Commission issued a report (in March 2015) outlining a Strategy for Europe to seize the Silver Economy opportunity. The strategy identifies different areas of potential growth for the European Silver economy; age-friendly smart homes and living environments, integrated care solutions (health and social or community care) and finally, Silver tourism. Digital technology can play an important role in all 3 areas.

How can we seize the ageing opportunity?

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 693319
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Home News Transforming ageing into an opportunity for Europe