The emerging demographic change towards an ageing population is introducing drastic changes into our society.
We therefore need to find ways to motivate and assist older people to stay active for longer in the labour market, to prevent social isolation and promote societal inclusion and finally to help people stay independent for as long as possible.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can play a major role in order to help achieve the above goals. ICT can help elderly individuals to improve their quality of life, stay healthier, live independently for longer, and counteract reduced capabilities which are more prevalent with age. ICT can enable them to remain active at work or in their community. To achieve these goals, we need appropriate policies that will help promote introduction of such solutions for improved quality of life for elderly people and their carers, strongly increased efficiency of our care systems while creating fantastic new global market opportunities for European industry.
In response to these challenges and opportunities, the European Commission has launched an Action Plan for Ageing Well in the Information Society which includes measures to: Raise awareness and share good practice; Build consensus via stakeholder cooperation; Promote policies to stimulate innovation in the public sector and to overcome technical and regulatory barriers to market development; Accelerate take-up and innovation; Boost research and innovation.
As a result, between now and 2013, the EU and Member States, and the private sector will invest more than Euro 1 billion in research and innovation for ageing well: some Euro 600m in the Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, an expected Euro 400m in the EU's 7th framework programme and so far more than Euro 60m on large scale pilot projects in the EU's ICT Policy Support Programme.
I therefore welcome very much this initiative of the AALIANCE innovation platform on ICT for Ageing Well. A strong common vision, a corresponding roadmap, strategic research and innovation agenda across all relevant stakeholders is essential to ensure that the investments will bring forward relevant ICT solutions for Ageing Well.
The European Commission will use this document and further AALIANCE developments as a key input to help define future strategies and the direction of EU funding schemes that can provide support to the stakeholders in this domain.
I strongly encourage the whole community to contribute to make this vision come through for the benefit of Europe.
Director, ICT addressing Societal Challenges, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission