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24 July 2014
Health: Winning support for 600m Euro bid

Health: Winning support for 600m Euro bid

A multi-million-euro initiative to provide effective healthcare for Scotland’s ageing population was promoted at an event at the Scottish Parliament in June, hosted by the Digital Health Institute and the Life Knowledge and Information Community (LifeKIC). Researchers are co-ordinating a bid to secure up to €600m for six centres across Europe – led by the University of Edinburgh – to promote healthy living and active ageing.

The KIC, if funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, would involve experts from healthcare, business and research brought together to develop ways of delivering sustainable healthcare over people’s lifetimes. The bid’s co-ordinators hope that the project could tap into Scotland’s expertise in digital healthcare, research and entrepreneurship to meet the challenges of healthcare, which are made more difficult when people live in remote areas.

Their bid will be submitted in September and, if successful, the ten-year project could begin soon after. This would further cement Scotland’s position as a leader in the development of the global digital health market following the recent launch of the Digital Health Institute which is making significant progress.

Scotland’s participation in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, set up by the European Commission (EC) to address societal challenges of an ageing population through innovation, has seen two ‘three star’ evaluated reference sites.

The national telecare programme, which ran from 2006 to 2011, was recognised, along with the joint improvement team’s work on anticipatory care planning. This has helped foster Scotland’s reputation on the European stage.

This year the EC launched Horizon 2020, the biggest EU research and innovation investment programme ever. Among other things, this vast financial instrument will distribute money to two new KICs. The idea is to link education and entrepreneurship with research and innovation to produce EU-wide societal benefits. Edinburgh University, along with the Digital Health Institute in Edinburgh, is leading a bid to establish one of these new KICs, centred on healthy and active ageing.

Six co-location centres spanning Europe are involved in the bid, including southern Denmark and Galicia and the Basque Country. It is hoped each centre will attract at least €10m funding per year. If successful, the UK co-location node in LifeKIC will be hosted in Edinburgh and the overall LifeKIC will also be headquartered in Edinburgh. This will enable the university to participate as an “innovation hub”.

Professor Mark Parsons, Associate Dean for e-research at the university and co-ordinator of the LifeKIC bid, said: “People are living for longer, but this often means they experience illness late in life. We must plan effectively to manage the demand this places on healthcare resources, to ensure adequate care for all. Scotland is well placed to tackle this challenge, and winning support for our bid could help us deliver effective results for citizens across Europe.”

Professor George Crooks OBE, Chair of the Digital Health Institute, commented: “Digital health applications have been with us for many years and are having considerable positive impact in the service areas where they are already used. The challenge for us across Europe is to move from pockets of innovative practice to a position where digital health-supported services are regarded as ‘business as usual’. We hope Scotland’s leadership position is increasing awareness, will aid the cause and create significant economic impact.” 

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