UK-China Healthy Ageing Accelerator December 2022

Adaptation to the Urban environment: Developing ‘age-friendly’ cities

Opportunity Details


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Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to benefit from a business growth support package delivered by Oxford Innovation on behalf of NICA to strengthen their entry into the Chinese Healthy Ageing market.


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Adaptation to the Urban environment: Developing ‘age-friendly’ cities

This high value opportunity seeks businesses whose innovations or perhaps re-purposed products / services, can enable the adaptation of urban environments to ensure older adults or people with disabilities can continue to thrive and remain active, happy and healthy.

The KTN Innovation Exchange programme is supporting NICA (UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing) and OIA (Oxford Innovation Advice) to find innovative UK companies who are ambitious to grow their businesses with ideas relevant to urban environments. We seek innovators with new product or service ideas that can support people to stay healthy, connected and active as we age.

The theme of this accelerator is ‘adaptations to the urban environment’ and we are looking for technologies, products and services that help to ensure our towns and cities actively support our healthy longevity and quality of life.   Applicants must be UK Registered companies. Any applications from companies outside the UK will not be considered.

The free-of-charge NICA Healthy Ageing Accelerator programme is targeted at high-growth potential companies of any size and from any part of the UK. It will provide expert support to help companies to maximise their business growth including assisting participants to explore the fast-growing China Market. Successful applicants will benefit from 9 weeks of tailored fully funded support from NICA, OIA, and KTN experts. The first week of the programme will require full-time “in person” participation in Newcastle upon Tyne. We are now recruiting the third group of ten participants. The earlier groups are currently undertaking the programme and deriving significant benefit.

These activities are funded through the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration (FIC), delivered by Innovate UK, part of UKRI.


You must be a UK registered sole trader, limited company, or LLP (registered with Companies House). An eligibility form must be submitted along with your application; details are at the link below. We anticipate that individuals participating in this programme will be Chief Executive/Managing Director or Director level.

The innovations that are being sought should be at a Technology Readiness Level of 7 (demonstrated within an operational environment) and above and therefore close to market-ready. The products should help the healthy ageing agenda and can be from any sized company and from any sector. We also welcome products and services that could be adapted or marketed for the longevity market but may not as yet be targeted there.

Products and services that help with improving people’s lives by supporting:

  • Access to public transport or private transport
  • Increased access to green, social and multi-generational spaces
  • Improved access to infrastructure, services, and community resources (such as communal space)
  • Assistance navigating urban environments, including for people with additional health needs, (eg low vision, reduced hearing, cognitive impairment)
  • Address challenges or barriers such as:
    • Pollution (incl noise pollution),
    • Social isolation
    • Physical barriers, such as lack of rest points, uneven paving, inadequate toilet facilities
    • Safety issues (eg poor lighting, traffic accidents, personal security)

The Healthy Ageing Market 

Increasing numbers of people are living longer. However often this results in more years of life experiencing the negative aspects of ageing meaning we often need more support to maintain quality of life. More years lived in great health is our objective.

Maintaining our health at an older age is fundamental to quality of life allowing us to remain independent, to work or remain active in our local community. It also allows us to maintain and build our social connections and family life and to do the other things that give us all meaning and purpose.

Although this programme will explore many aspects of business growth including raising investment and will also examine healthy ageing in the round, there will be a specific focus on the fast-growing healthy longevity market in China (specifically Beijing), the potential commercial opportunities for British products and services there, and ways to work towards accessing that potential.

This Accelerator programme is open to businesses with any ideas for products or services that may help a person (of any age) to live a complete and connected life and be confident of being able to go out safely and return to their own home.

The opportunity areas addressed through this Accelerator programme are as follows (this is not an exhaustive or comprehensive description and many other ideas can also be considered.)

Mobility and Independence in Urban Environment: The over-arching scope of this programme is helping people to access services, spaces and technology which can enable social connectivity to be maintained as we age; we must also pay attention to the integration of, and equality of access to, community and outside spaces, sports, hobbies and social situations (restaurants and events etc), and to psychological factors that underpin self-confidence amongst other ‘enablers’.

Longevity Cities: The UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) based in Newcastle upon Tyne is already working with a global network of Longevity Cities – leading on a data-driven and human capital framework, innovating, co-designing products, services, and experiences to practically enable and unlock the potential of all businesses, high streets, communities, dwellings and neighbourhoods. We seek innovative ideas and your high-potential businesses capable of addressing and succeeding to support people to gain the best possible health outcomes in these situations throughout their lives and into older age.

Rewards and benefits

The Accelerator will be hosted in the multi-award-winning Catalyst Innovation Centre in central Newcastle upon Tyne which is also the home of NICA itself. The programme will begin with a one-week Induction programme which will be highly interactive and delivered face-to-face. All other activities and resources will be provided optionally as face-to-face, virtual, or mixed-mode interventions. This is a highly flexible offer. The teams at NICA, OIA and KTN (and other experts such as DIT plus China geographical experts) will all provide support and content. This will include an Entrepreneur in Residence who can support your business throughout its journey through the Accelerator Programme.

You will also receive coaching, masterclasses, China market intelligence, showcase opportunities, access to Catalyst facilities, and much more.

We anticipate receiving more applications that there are places available in which case a selection process will operate. The key criteria we will use in selecting the successful Applicants are:

  • Credibility of the company and its product or service
  • Meeting or exceeding Technology Readiness Level 7
  • “Fit” against the broad Urban Environment criteria defined earlier
  • Interest in learning more about the Market in China

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