Active and Healthy Ageing in the EU: 77 Reference sites awarded

26 September 2019

As a result of the Call for Reference Sites 2019 launched in June 2019, a total of 77 regional and local organisations have been awarded “Reference Site” status. These organisations have demonstrated the existence of comprehensive strategies to advance innovation and to understand and address the challenges of delivering health and care services to the ageing population. They successfully bring together a wide range of stakeholders based on a "Quadruple Helix" model that includes representatives from industry, civil society, academia and government authorities at a regional and local level. These collaborations drive structural change far beyond the scope any one particular organisation could achieve on its own, helping to create an environment for other regions across Europe to learn, transfer and adapt knowledge to local realities, with regional, social and economic development as the long-term objective.

The Reference Site status has been granted to those organisations who have shown excellence in the development, adoption and scaling up of innovative practices for active and healthy ageing. This work should also be aligned with the strategic objectives of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA) and the relevant new strategic developments including the Transformation of Health and Care in the Digital Single Market and work carried out through the Horizon 2020 WE4AHA CSA, particularly in the 3 horizontal initiatives, such as the Blueprint and the Innovation to Market (I2M) plan and MAFEIP.

For the first time, as a result of the peer-review and expert review process in the 2019 Call, six 4 stars reference Sites have been awarded a “Special recognition for excellence” for their outstanding work in driving regional innovation in active and healthy ageing, improving the quality of life of the ageing population, making health and social care delivery more sustainable and stimulating economic growth and competitiveness. These Reference Sites include: South Denmark, Basque country, Andalusia, Catalonia, HANNN and Scotland.

However, this is only the beginning. The EIP on AHA provides a framework for continuous improvement and the involvement of new relevant stakeholders to enable any Reference Site to maintain and further improve its status. The process for becoming or making progress as a Reference Site incorporates an Improvement Tool which Reference Sites can use to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement, as well as develop an implementation plan. This will allow Reference Sites to continually challenge and benchmark themselves to ensure they are at the forefront in strategy and policy development and therefore contributing to the economic growth in their region and across Europe.