The University of South Wales (USW) is one of three universities in Wales which are involved in a new research hub aimed at growing the global market for age-related products and services.
The project, for which Swansea University has secured £2.5m of EU funding, will run from its Centre for Innovative Ageing and is in partnership with USW and the University of Wales Trinity St David.
It aims to support the creative industries sector in Wales as part of research aimed at extending and improving the working lives of older people.
On average, people are living a lot longer than ever before and for the first time in the UK people aged over 65 outnumber those aged under 15.
The ‘grey pound’ now accounts for £320bn of annual UK household spending, with over-50s holding over 75 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
The Institute of Creative Ageing Industries project will develop the first bespoke living lab facility at the University’s Singleton Park campus, designed for an ageing population.
As Wales’ leading centre for ageing studies, the Centre for Innovative Ageing puts a positive view of ageing and older people at the core of its business, and its research ensures care, well-being and quality of life are underpinned by the latest in original and innovative ideas.
Dr Charles Musselwhite, co-project leader and Interim Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing at Swansea University, said: “We are delighted to be establishing what we believe is a truly unique venture. We have an ageing population who could really benefit from products and services developed by our creative industry sector in Wales including arts, crafts, media, broadcasting and smart and innovative technologies.
“We will create space for creative industry businesses and entrepreneurs to work closely with older people, charities, policy-makers and practitioners to work towards co-creating prototypes that could become new products and services for an ageing population.
“We do this through a living lab approach utilising a hub and spoke model. The hub will contain, as far as we know, the world’s first dedicated Daily Living Facility for older people, a mock-up of a room that can be changed between living space, dining room and kitchen to develop and test products, a virtual reality suite and a break out café lab.
“The spokes include community spaces such as care homes, community centres, cafes and clubs to test and develop products and services. We hope to make Wales the best place in the world to grow old in and a leading light in creative industries for an ageing population.”