NHS European Office

Dr Ilias Iakovidis from the European Commission talks EU research and innovation funding opportunities for the NHS

Ilias Iakovidis

DG CONNECT plays a major part in Horizon 2020, focusing both on information and communication technologies, as well as their beneficial use in tackling major societal challenges. 

In the Societal challenge health, demographic change and well-being, we support research and innovation in (ICT for) health, wellbeing and ageing well. One of the aims of the unit I lead [Digital Social Platforms unit] is to support people to live active and healthy lives. We run research and innovation (R&I) projects that find and test ways to enable older people to live independently at home, communicate better with their carers, and remain an active contributor to society. At the same time we foster new market segments that focus on ageing well products and services. For example, social robotics is an area of particular interest for us. We have already tested the first generation of robots that assist ageing citizens in their daily life and are now working on the next generation that will be not only more sophisticated and user friendly, but also more accessible to a much broader population of users.

I want to tell you about a number of upcoming opportunities supported by Horizon 2020 and that could be of interest to NHS organisations. 

Integrated Care

We work with a wide range of stakeholders, such as regional and local authorities, industry, health and social care providers, to support innovation in health and social care systems. In the area of integrated care, we recently launched a new call for proposals under Horizon 2020 (closing deadline 21 April 2015) which promotes the alignment, collaboration and connectivity among health and social care providers, as well as informal carers, with the help of ICT systems and services. These are the foundations for developing integrated care models that are closely oriented to the needs of older persons. We expect that proposed projects will push the current state of the art in telehealth and telecare systems and develop new integrated care approaches addressing technological, social and organisational issues. We're looking for interdisciplinary research with active involvement from different stakeholders. Projects should provide evidence, with both qualitative and quantitative indicators, of the likely impact for individuals, care systems and market. The exact scope and expected impact is presented here PHC 25 – 2015: "Advanced ICT systems and services for Integrated Care". Many integrated care solutions have already been tried and tested at large scale. The large ongoing initiative that pools together the knowledge around this area is the European Innovation partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, with some best practice on integrated care.

Early Risk Detection and Intervention

Through another call for proposals also recently launched under Horizon 2020 (closing deadline for applications is also 21 April 2015) we are looking to support R&I projects that can demonstrate the benefits of unobtrusive behavioural sensing in the daily living environment for detecting early conditions (such as cognitive impairment, frailty, depression and falls). We expect that potential projects will be able to demonstrate a clear link between changes in behaviour and upcoming health or ageing related conditions. The most exciting and at the same time challenging part of these projects is the need for interdisciplinary research involving ICT, behavioural, sociological, health and other relevant disciplines with active stakeholder engagement. Improvements in early risk detection and intervention for individuals, as well as benefits for care systems, are expected to be delivered by the successful projects. If you're interested in this area, please consult the exact scope and expected impact on PHC 21 – 2015: "Advancing active and healthy ageing with ICT: Early risk detection and intervention

Digital Social Platforms and innovation

Last but not least, and still through Horizon 2020, our unit also launched a new call under the banner of Digital Social Platforms (with a closing deadline of 14 April 2015). With this action we call for project ideas that build on existing ecosystems of social innovators and propose convincing ways to scale them across communities and borders, in order to tackle a specific societal challenge such as healthy living or active and healthy ageing.  Proposals in this area aim to identify typical blocking factors in social innovation and how to overcome them with incentives, rewards, and business models.

Dr Ilias Iakovidis  leads the H2 Digital Social Platforms Unit at the European Commission's Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT).

The views expressed in the article are the sole responsibility of the author and in no way represent the view of the European Commission and its services.

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