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RCA Executive Education course

Learn how to apply innovation methodology and frameworks to create better customer products, services and experiences for an ageing population, led by Colum Lowe, Director of the Design Age Institute.

Key details


  • Regular fee: £900


  • Location: Battersea campus

    1.5 days in person

    Day 1: 8 December 2022 (start after lunch 1–5pm GMT)

    Day 2: 9 December 2022 (10am – 5pm GMT)

    A small number of subsidised places are available for those working in the public and charitable sectors. If you would like to discuss, please contact us at [email protected]

The UK's population is ageing, and this older population is holding an ever increasing percentage of national assets and household spend. So, why do so few organisations - public, private and charitable - not design for what older adults want, rather than what they perceive them to need?

The masterclass aims to provide a unique insight into the ageing marketplace, looking at how to design products, services and experiences that are not limited by the pervasive medical discourse of ageing as decline, frailty and burden.

Using design thinking and innovation frameworks we will cover:

  • what drives behaviour and purchase motivation
  • the basics of action psychology
  • how design has an important role to play in creating healthier, happier lives for all of us as we age.

This Executive Masterclass is led by Colum Lowe, Director of the Design Age Institute and RCA Honorary Fellow. Invited contributions by guest speakers Dr Anthony Howarth from Oxford University’s Institute of Population Ageing and Ailsa Forbes & Lily Parsey from the International Longevity Centre UK.

Colum Lowe explains how the Masterclass will introduce participants to both the challenges and opportunities of designing for and with an ageing population in this RCA news story here.

A small number of subsidised places are available for those working in the public and charitable sectors.  If you would like to discuss, please contact us at [email protected].

About the course

By 2050 the global population of those 65 years and above is estimated to double from 727 million today to 1.5 billion. We are expected not only to live longer lives, but also more diverse lives requiring designers, manufacturers, and service providers to reconsider how they target and support this market segment. 

This growth in the ageing population has created national concern about the ongoing affordability of care services and increased pressure on the NHS, but if industry developed products and services that people actually wanted, that helped them stay healthier and happier for longer, this would not necessarily be the case.

In the EU, people aged 50 plus consumed €3.7 trillion worth of goods and  services in 2015, this is projected to rise to €5.7 trillion by 2025. Over 50’s already hold 70% of all household wealth in the UK but by 2040 over 55’s will account for 63p in every pound spent. Designing for this market not only makes moral sense, but also commercial sense.

In line with our belief that every problem is a design problem, the masterclass structure follows the double diamond design thinking process, as follows:

Module 1 - Discover

Discover the makeup of the ageing economy in terms of demographics, psychographics and purchase behaviours. Dig into the latest research from Oxford University’s Institute for Population Ageing.

Module 2 - Define

Define the common problems of ageing connected to independence, frailty, working, homelife and community. Fit solutions to a customer group and understand which are most likely to succeed.

Module 3 - Develop

Develop a solution through a process of experimentation and using the latest inclusive design thinking, co-design and co-creation.

Module 4 - Deliver

Deliver a single solution to market based on what is most likely to succeed commercially and be adopted by real users and customers.

The benefits to you and your organisation include:

  • access to global best practice
  • a deeper understanding of both the demographics and psychographics of ageing and how this impacts the longevity economy
  • empathic understanding of older adult users/customers and be ready to start ‘designing for your future self’
  • return to your organisation with innovative new techniques and strategies to put into practice
  • experience critical, creative and insightful thinking
  • interact and network with peers from different backgrounds and functions
  • a certificate of attendance.

You will learn:

  • how to apply innovation methodology and frameworks to create better customer products, services and experiences
  • real world applications of innovation and how it is transforming organisations
  • creative design techniques.

Learning takes place over 1.5 days in person on campus in London.

The course includes:

  • lectures and guest talks
  • team workshops
  • feedback from facilitators
  • resources, e.g. journal articles, videos and case studies

You will come away from this course with:

  • a deep insight of the ageing economy
  • an understanding of design thinking and age inclusive design
  • a framework to understanding the innovation process
  • a tool to evaluate good and bad design

Anyone interested in developing an empathy for older adults and exploring age inclusive design thinking techniques and principles.

From industry

  • Executive Directors
  • Marketers
  • R&D Leads
  • Healthy ageing entrepreneurs and innovators

From the public sector

  • Directors of customer experience
  • Service design leads
  • Service planners and commissioners
  • Transformation Leads

From education

  • Incubator Directors
  • Accelerator Directors
  • Course leaders
  • Students or graduates

This course will be delivered face to face at our new flagship building in Battersea.


RCA Executive Education will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in the period up to the course dates.

Our planning incorporates the latest Government guidance as well as consideration of how best to ensure a safe and inclusive learning space for participants and staff team.

Our participants health, wellbeing and quality of experience while attending our on-campus courses is paramount to us.

Full details of the Covid safe guidelines in place for the course will be provided to you in advance of your start date with your welcome information.

Disclaimer: Change to online delivery

It may be necessary due to Covid-19 restrictions to change the mode of delivery to live online.

We will endeavour to notify all participants in advance of any changes, no later than 2 weeks before the course start date.

Terms & conditions apply.

The Design Age Institute is the UK’s national strategic unit for design and the healthy ageing economy. We bring together designers, businesses, researchers and communities to help address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society.

At the Design Age Institute, we teach design thinking for an ageing population, training leaders from the public, private and charitable sectors who need to innovate within their organisations. In contrast to standard, linear approaches that build on tested models, design thinking is creatively structured, analytic and responsive. It draws in diverse disciplines and multiple areas of expertise and exploration, starting with the core premise that everything is a design problem.

Design Age Institute


Contact us

Get in touch with Jo Chounta if you'd like to find out more about this or any of our other short courses.

Email us at
[email protected]
Executive Education Team