Life Sciences and Energy

Opportunities for collaboration in the smart ageing industry discussed at the Life Sciences International Summit

By Business & Finance
15 October 2014
Mark Ferguson, director general, Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government of Ireland moderates at the Life Sciences International Summit this morning

Delegates gather at the third Life Sciences International Summit to discuss smart ageing and the opportunities for innovation and collaboration.

The Life Sciences International Summit taking place in Dublin today saw life science experts debate the key issues and opportunities in the area of smart ageing. Organised by Business & Finance and in association with Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, the Summit is now in its third year.

Given the pace of global ageing the underlining message at the Summit is that meeting the needs of an increasingly ageing population will be challenging and innovation and collaboration between the life sciences industry, academia, the government and business will be crucial.

The island of Ireland is an ageing society with nearly one million people aged 60 years or older and it is expected that Ireland’s percentage of people aged 60 or older will increase to around 28% by 2030.

Ireland has many of the essential building blocks for the development of a smart ageing sector in Ireland. “In addition to our favourable tax environment, skilled workforce, position as a gateway to Europe – which has served Ireland well in terms of attracting FDI – Ireland has many distinct advantages that are particularly relevant to the growth of smart ageing technologies and services,” Ian Hyland, CEO, Business & Finance said.

During the panel discussions, delegates attending the Summit also heard from industry experts who discussed the opportunity for Ireland to become a global hub for smart ageing technologies. Fostering a smart ageing hub presents both an opportunity for the creation of new businesses that will deliver increased value, grow exports and create further employment.

“The creation and sustainability of this important industry sector will also have a positive impact on the health-related expenditure of the public finances as well as improve quality of life,” Hyland added.

The Summit moderator, Dr Darrin Morrissey who is Science Foundation Ireland director of Programmes, opened the first session which examined the essential building blocks for the development of a smart ageing sector in Ireland.

Susan Davis, founder and chairman of Susan Davis International explained why Ireland needs to be strategic in its approach if it is to attract and retain innovative life science businesses to set up and grow their operations here.

Rose Anne Kenny, a professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College and consultant in geriatric medicine at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, outlined the challenges and opportunities for Ireland in devising a roadmap for the development of a smart ageing industry here.

Tony O’Donovan, CEO Home Instead Senior Care Ireland said from his experience he believed innovative businesses have an important role to play in developing and driving the sector and that science and business sectors must partner if we are to maximise on the opportunities that present themselves.

The second session at the Summit looked at how business can capitalise on the power of big data and technology for healthcare. Speakers in this session included: Dr. Johnny Walker, founder and president, Health Founders; Professor Brian Caulfield, director INSIGHT and lead investigator, ARCH; Mark Wolff, principal industry consultant, Health & Life Sciences Global Practice SAS Institute; and Judith Moffet, director of Science, Engineering, Supply Chain and Construction, CPL Resources.

The third session looked at funding opportunities for those involved in the smart ageing industry and how firms can access and utilise this investment. Dr Helen McBreen from the National Digital Research Centre explained how important it is to invest in early stage science and technology start-ups, while Sandra Ganly, head of Business Development at Metric Ireland gave insights and advice on public/private partnerships and open innovation.

During the fourth session of the Summit, delegates heard from Waseem Sharif from Patients Know Best – a UK-based social enterprise that uses technology to allow patients to control their own medical records.

Professor Cathy Craig, Queen’s University Belfast (CARDI) Centre for Ageing Research & Development in Ireland, gave an insightful speech on the power of harnessing gaming technology to develop bespoke balance training solutions for older adults, while David Doherty, co-founder 3G Doctor, examined mHealth services which he says are key to a successful smart ageing strategy.

The Summit concluded with a closing session on regulation and compliance and how best to adapt EU and national policies and strategies to meet the demands associated with an ageing population.