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The new centre, the Design Age Institute, will work with a variety of stakeholders from design, business, policy and academia, to stimulate the longevity economy and provide a range of strategic design services to business and industry. This  underpins the Government’s industrial strategy, which aims to position the UK as a major exporter of new products and services for an ageing population.

Britain has a rapidly ageing population – a quarter of the UK’s population will be over 60 by 2040 – but design for ageing in the UK has been fragmented and the research base in UK universities under-exploited. 

Bringing more innovative design to the ageing market is widely seen as the key to unlocking the commercial potential of the sector and exploiting new and emerging technologies. This project will scope opportunities for design-led innovation, collate a design-for-ageing network, and demonstrate the value of design in the sector. Design teams in universities, spinouts and private sector firms across the UK will have the opportunity to work on demonstrator projects with older people as part of the new initiative.

About the Design Age Institute

The Design Age Institute will be attached to the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, the RCA’s longest-running research centre which has pioneered the study and practice of inclusive design over the past 25 years.

The central aim of the Institute  will be inclusive design in dealing with the challenge of an ageing society. It will focus on more aspirational products and services that support healthy ageing and move away from medical products and services purchased at the point of crisis. Key Themes will include ‘Ageing well in place’, supporting people to remain in their homes and communities and ‘Longer working lives’, supporting people to stay in the workplace for longer.

The new Design Age Institute will work collaboratively on a three-year programme with:  the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University, University of Oxford’s Institute of Population Ageing, the International Longevity Centre and Design Museum.

Using design-led innovation to reduce costs in health and social care, the aim is to create a sustainable centre, building on the RCA’s strengths in this area. The College is also investing in the new institute along with industry support to complement the Research England award.

Outcomes

The Design Age Institute will be a key building block in a new innovation ecosystem that positions itself as a global leader in the field. At its heart, will lie a specialist research and knowledge exchange team with an in-depth knowledge of the system. 

At its forefront, a ‘design shop window’ will be positioned to drive inward UK investment, along with a national inclusive design-for-ageing network tested through its projects.