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EU R&I

The importance the European Commission

places on health-related research is clear, as

demonstrated by Horizon 2020. The EU

institution has allocated a budget of nearly

€7.5bn to the Societal Challenge of ‘Health,

demographic change and wellbeing’. There are

specific funding allocations regarding ageing

research and neurodegenerative diseases, and

such investments are generating benefits.

“Ageing populations are something governments,

health services and civil society are definitely

expecting,” said Moedas. “The investments in

research, science and innovation we make

now will define the kind of care and

opportunities we afford ourselves and

generations to come. This is why the EU

has invested over €526m in health-related

ageing research.

“Our projects have established markers of

cellular senescence, epigenetics and

longevity determination, and therapeutic

approaches to age-specific pathologies, to

name a few. A further €650m has been

invested in research on neurodegenerative

diseases, including Alzheimer’s. Unlike the

framework programmes that preceded it,

Horizon 2020 supports actions from basic

and clinical research to market deployment.”

New opportunities

The European commissioner then set out the

exciting potential ahead, with European

companies already harnessing some of the

possibilities to address the challenges of an

ageing population. He described the actions of

Horizon 2020 as being “underpinned by a

vision of ageing based on inclusion, a vision

that welcomes new opportunities for

innovation, a vision for the future that is both

intriguing and exciting.

“In every EU member state, the share of the

population aged 65 years and over is

increasing. This presents us with a ready-made,

emerging market for social entrepreneurship

and innovation, a sound case for developing

W

hilst the population of the EU is growing at a steady rate

and is expected to reach nearly 520 million in 2060, the

number of elderly people will rise dramatically, with almost

one-third of the Union’s population expected to be aged 65 or over.

According to statistics from the European Commission, the number of

people aged 15-64 is predicted to decline from 67% to 56% by 2060,

leading to the EU’s over 65s being supported by about two people of

working age compared to the current four.

At the 2015 European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy

Ageing in Brussels in March, Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner

for Research, Science and Innovation, set the scene for what an older

life experience in the future may be like.

“Life expectancy in EU member states increased by over five years

between 1990 and 2012 alone. Spain is the EU member state with the

highest life expectancy; there, the average citizen can expect to reach

their 82nd birthday.

“Better standards of living, hygiene and healthcare are among many of

the reasons we’re enjoying longer lives, and with such swiftly changing

demographics, it’s safe to say that − for many of us − old age won’t be

what we imagined watching our grandparents retire.

“We’ll certainly be more likely to flick through old photos on a handheld

device than dust off a stack of family albums as retirees. We will probably

have far fewer grandchildren to spoil. Old age is not what it used to be

… that throws up a whole range of questions for employment,

healthcare, lifestyle and recreation.”

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

124

S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : H E A L T H & W E L L B E I N G

The new elderly

European Research Commissioner

Carlos Moedas

addressed delegates at the

European Summit on Innovation for Active and Healthy Ageing on what life will

be like for Europe’s ageing population

Moedas outlined how

the EU is investing in

technology to

help overcome the

issues linked to an

ageing population

© stevepb