Ireland – the global leader in smart ageing innovations
ISAX (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange) is an independent network of businesses, academic institutions and government agencies developing and launching products targeted at the Global Smart Ageing Economy.
What is ISAX?
ISAX is a new independent network – a ‘joined up approach’ to fast-tracking the R&D and commercialisation of solutions for the global smart ageing economy – an economy projected by Merrill Lynch to be worth $15tn by 2020.
With people living much longer and fertility rates falling, the numbers over 60 will more than double from 895 million (12.18% of world population) in 2015 to 2.1 billion (22% of world population) by 2050. Those over 80 will increase from 143m (1.85% of world population) in 2020 to 379 million by 2050 (3.9% of world population) an increase of more than double. (OECD, UN & WHO)
This pace of population ageing poses big challenges for societies and governments across the world.
There is growing pressure to ensure that:
- people enter their later years healthy and stay so
- life-style behaviours improve so as to prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases;
- health care migrates out of hospital settings to community and self-care;
- a range of options exist to provide income security in later years including supporting people to stay working longer and set up their own business
- current shortages of carers are addressed through better technologies and housing design and better career structures for carers
- we develop ‘smart ageing’ homes and cities
- older adults are enabled to live ‘life with purpose’ contributing socially, economically and culturally to the communities in which they live.
Solving these complex problems requires a ‘joined up approach’
- academic institutions to achieve scientific ‘break-throughs’ and provide independence evidence of ‘what works’;
- start-up companies to translate that research into new inventions - new products, services and technologies;
large companies to collaborate across sectors and provide the scale needed to bring new solutions to global markets; and
- governments and their agencies as procurers and regulators.
ISAX was established to provide the enabling environment for exactly this type of collaboration.
The Smart Ageing Economy
Populations are ageing very rapidly across the world – due to rapid increases in life expectancy and reducing fertility levels. Since 1840 life expectancy has been increasing at the rate of 2.5 years per decade (= 5 hours per day) in the developed world. This resulted in an additional 30 years being added to life expectancy in the last century alone.
Overall, older consumers (50+) enjoy relatively higher purchasing power than other cohorts – which is not to deny that many still live at or near the poverty line. They account for approximately 80% and 75% of net wealth in the US and 55% of household expenditure
These driving forces pose big challenges for societies and governments across the world. But they equally offer exciting new opportunities for the right solutions to address them. The really big and complex challenges cannot be solved by any one company or government agency on their own, and instead require a collaborative multi-sectoral approach.
Opportunities in the smart ageing economy
Economic opportunities span a range of sectors including: health; food; financial services; housing; employment; education and training; transport, leisure and tourism.
New products could include, for example, functional foods that prevent or arrest the development of dementia. They could also include financial products that insure against future care needs.
Within the health sector, virtual reality technologies that extend physical mobile or predictive apps that alert against falls are already proving important. The medical device sector as well as new surgical procedures that improve longer life offer enormous potential.
Lastly, housing is likely to be very significant with clustered housing solutions that encourage independent living for longer.