Innovation in Healthy Ageing Devon

What is the aim?

The Innovation in Healthy Ageing project is a collaborative project partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund with additional financial support from Devon County Council, the South West Academic Health Science Network, West Devon Business Information Point, and the University of Plymouth with the aim to improve healthy ageing in Devon.

This programme has been designed to use key challenges and opportunities around the impact of ageing populations, changing lifestyle choices and the rise in chronic conditions, as a catalyst for innovation and growth by investing in the following sectors:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical Technology
  • Medical Bio-Technology
  • Healthcare Services.


European Union European Regional Development Fund logo with SWAHSN logo<br></p>

How will we do it?

Small to medium enterprise’s (SME’s) and social enterprises will be supported to provide innovative solutions to the challenges affecting how people age in Devon including Plymouth and Torbay.

These ideas could be for new technology, applications for existing technology, services, models or processes. 

The programme will provide an opportunity to work collaboratively and apply for funding to develop ideas.

How will it work?

The project will run until June 2020 and is accessible by eligible organisations located in Devon including Plymouth and Torbay. 

A Challenge Event was held in March 2018 to bring together all stakeholders interested in the project and identify the key challenges around providing care for an ageing population. This was closely followed by a ‘hackathon’ event on Friday 23 March 2018 where stakeholders were encouraged to collaborate and innovate around how to address these key challenges. 

Following these events, collaborative groups with an appointed lead from businesses and social enterprises identified potential ideas for new technology, new uses for existing technology and innovative operating models or services.

<p>Innovation in Healthy Ageing Devon</p>

Collaborative Groups whose innovations have the most potential were offered the following support to work up their ideas:

Student Placements, Up to 15 students available to work with the groups, funded by the project itself.

Challenge Fund, Opportunity for collaborative groups to bid into a challenge fund. Groups need to provide 40% of the total expenditure they are bidding for.

Practical and Specialist Health Innovation Support, Collaborative groups receive practical and specialist health innovation support. A minimum of 12 hours support provided during the programme lifetime.

N.B. Collaborative Groups are able to take up the most suitable combination of the three support activities offered; based upon their project idea. Collaborative Groups need to appoint a project lead. The project lead is the organisation applying for funding.

Who is involved?

  • Devon County Council (Programme Lead)
  • South West Academic Health Science Network
  • West Devon Business Information Point
  • University of Plymouth.

How can I take part?

To be eligible for the programme your organisation should:

  • Be classed as a small/medium sized enterprise; employing fewer than 250 people, or a legally constituted social enterprise.
  • Have an annual turnover of less than €50m (approx. £42m).
  • Have a balance sheet value of less than €43m (approx £36m).
  • Be less than 25% owned by another company or combination of companies.
  • Have received less than €200,000 of public funding in the last three years. 


We held two public events in March 2018 to help SMEs, students, patients, academics and other stakeholders engage with this project. 

On 1 March 2018, we met to identify the issues for Devon in terms of healthy ageing. 

On 23 March 2018, we held a student and SME focused event. This event formed the basis for SMEs to submit an expression of interest in the project. 

Student placements

We offered students from engineering, art and design, life sciences and health professions the opportunity to take up placements with Devon-based companies to help develop these new products or services - helping companies pilot new products and taking part in the innovation process. 

Placements were paid, and the companies themselves had access to a £450,000 Challenge Fund to help develop the ideas for the students to work on.

The Innovation in Healthy Ageing project is receiving up to £657,714 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014–2020. 
The department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. 
Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.