Centrica is launching a £100,000 ‘Active Ageing Challenge’ prize fund for start-ups. to drive energy tech innovation that helps people thrive as they grow older.
New research shows demand for IoT technologies among the over 60s is being driven by the desire for independent living and a better quality of life.
The poll, by Ipsos MORI for the energy and services company Centrica, shows that a third (33%) of people aged 60+ either own or are interested in buying a smart connected home device. Of those that already have the devices, 58% are using smart phones to control appliances like their heating, lights and security systems.
17% think the technology can improve their lives, while more than one in ten (13%) view using such technologies as they get older as empowering them to look after themselves and their homes better.
Despite the appetite among over 60s for smart connected home technology, Centrica thinks elderly people are being overlooked by IoT companies. The research also reveals that a third (33%) of over 60s have heard of smart home technology, but know nothing about it.
Sam Salisbury, Investment Principal at Centrica Innovations, commented: “Age is not a barrier to adopting technology. Living an active life as we get older is one of society’s biggest challenges. More needs to be done to engage over 60s and to develop tech solutions that meet their living needs and ambitions. We see a huge opportunity to collaborate with the start-up community to drive innovation and create new services and products for our customers.
“We’ve created a prize fund to help understand the role that technology can play as we age. We want to collaborate, explore and find solutions to help people thrive as they get older. We want to partner with the start-up community in the South East to address some of the biggest issues facing older people such as remaining independent, loneliness and health issues like dementia.”
Centrica is meeting the issues associated with ageing head-on, with the launch of its Active Ageing Challenge. This offers a total prize of £100,000 to innovators that help people thrive in their homes as they grow older, and solve living problems faced by the elderly. The challenge launches today at the first WIRED Energy event in London, with applications closing on 31st January 2018.
Sam adds: “This challenge is about more than just offering money. We are looking for enterprises we can partner with to serve our customers. To help make this a reality, we can provide mentorship, networking opportunities and help to create business plans for continued growth, and further investment.”
A recent report from the Campaign to End Loneliness shows that 9 in 10 people fear being alone as they grow older, while the London School of Economics estimates that the UK’s loneliness epidemic costs £6,000 per person for a decade of an older person’s life in health costs and pressure on local services. The Lancet Public Health medical journal also reports that in eight years’ time there will be 2.8m people in the UK aged over 65 needing nursing and social care, and unable to cope alone.
The Ipsos MORI research showed that 14% of people aged 60+ believe IoT technologies could help them to stay in control of their life as they age, while 17% also cited the benefit of such devices in keeping them connected to family and friends.
Sam concludes: “Technology can help people to retain their independence and peace of mind as they grow older, lead more active lives and stay in touch with family and friends. This can help address public health issues such as loneliness and social care provision.
“As people grow older, they don’t want simply to exist in their homes, they want to live in and love their homes. We know this through our 20,000 team members specially trained to support customers with dementia, the social impact companies that we’ve worked with during the last few years and the popularity of Centrica’s connected home product Hive among older people.
“Launching the Active Ageing Challenge will build on this and encourage innovations that help people thrive, remain active and connected as they grow older.”