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Healthy Ageing Challenge – Designed for Ageing


UK-registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £14.4million for service-led innovations to support healthy ageing.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Healthy Ageing Challenge, will work with Innovate UK, to invest up to £14.4million in innovation projects.

These will be to deliver a clear game-changing service-led innovation to help people as they age, positively, actively, independently and with dignity.

The aims of this competition are to:

  • Address the under-provision of products and services which support people as they age to remain active, independent and socially connected
  • Support business-led, near-to-market innovations that have potential to scale
  • Enforce good people-centred design principles
  • Encourage applications from businesses across the UK, by working with devolved government administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Your project’s total eligible costs must be between £500,000 and £2million.

Open Date:


Close Date:


The aim of this competition is to:

  • Address the under-provision by markets of services which support people as they age, to remain active, independent and socially connected for longer
  • Support business-led, near-to-market innovations that have strong potential to scale
  • Provide support through grant-funding against eligible project costs
  • Enforce good people-centred design principles
  • Encourage applications from businesses across the UK, by working closely with devolved government administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

To enforce the aim of good people-centred design principles, your project will be subject to a ‘design stage gate review’ at the six-month point. Your project must pass the ‘design stage gate review’ to continue to receive funding.

The review will ensure that your organisation is better placed to realise optimal market share by working with users and customers, to feed into service development and commercialisation plans.

Your project must:

  • Deliver a clear game-changing service-led innovation, that has a significant impact on ageing positively in the UK
  • Help people as they age, allowing them to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected for as long as possible
  • Narrow the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest
  • Conduct industrial research to develop new and applied knowledge leading to a solution at high technology and market readiness

Your proposal must:

  • Be delivered as a six months to two-year, business-led project, with a strong emphasis on people-centred design, as tested by the design stage gate review, and an ambition to scale
  • Identify a solution that must be sufficiently well-defined to be shaped by the initial six-month design stage gate review

The design stage gate review will be informed by your first six months’ people-centred design activity. This must be backed up by a revised commercialisation plan. You must be available at this six-month point for the review, along with your revised business and commercialisation plans.

The five review criteria for the design stage gate, must be evidenced and are based on:

  • Evidence of user engagement, including the user feedback mechanisms you have deployed
  • Details of adaptions you have made to your service through deploying people-centred Design, including references to any risks identified
  • Evidence of take-up and acceptance within your user community, which supports the anticipated demand for your service
  • Evidence from your user community that your solution is scalable, for example, is there now a wider interest in your offering
  • Evidence that your business and commercialisation plans have been updated to reflect this activity, and that these plans represent a fair view of the market opportunity

Innovate UK want to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of themes and regions including:

  • Scope, service or regional diversity
  • Investment with devolved administrations
  • Targeting inequalities and under-represented groups

Specific themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following service-led innovations that:

  • Enables self-care and new models of care for independent living
  • Encourages sustaining physical activity for people aged 50 and over, including for instance, active travel
  • Improves mental health
  • Addresses the ‘common complaints’ of ageing, for example, incontinence, pain, mobility, hearing and eyesight

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £500,000 and £2million
  • Start by 1 May 2022
  • End by 30 April 2024
  • Last between six months and 24 months
  • Carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

To lead a project or work alone, your organisation must be a UK-registered business of any size.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK-registered:

  • Business of any size
  • Academic institution
  • Charity
  • Not-for-profit
  • Public sector organisation
  • Research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

If collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

A business can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in a further two applications.

A business of any size, not leading an application, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO), can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

Subsidy control (and State aid where applicable)

This competition provides funding in line with the UK’s obligations and commitments to Subsidy Control. Further information about the UK Subsidy Control requirements can be found within the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement and the subsequent guidance from the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Innovate UK is unable to award organisations that are considered to be in financial difficulty. Innovate UK will conduct financial viability and eligibility tests to confirm this is not the case following the application stage.

EU State aid rules now only apply in limited circumstances. Please see the general guidance to check if these rules apply to your organisation.

Further Information

If you are unsure about your obligations under the UK Subsidy Control regime or the State aid rules, you should take independent legal advice. Innovate UK are unable to advise on individual eligibility or legal obligations.

You must make sure at all times that the funding awarded to you is compliant with all current Subsidy Control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom.

This aims to regulate any advantage granted by a public sector body which threatens to or actually distorts competition in the United Kingdom or any other country or countries.

If there are any changes to the above requirements that mean Innovate UK need to change the terms of this competition, they will tell you as soon as possible.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £14.4million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • Up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-s registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your eligible project costs if you are an RTO, charity, non-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Innovate UK are not funding projects that are:

  • Clinical trials or academic research projects
  • Not business-led
  • Early-stage innovations, for example: proof of concept or pre-prototype
  • Products that do not have a service wrapper or service application
  • Not clearly targeted to help ageing populations
  • Dependent on export performance, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • Dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example, giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.