Lancaster University

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Innovation experts collaborate to promote healthy ageing

11/21/2012 00:00:00

​World-leading innovation experts from industry and academia  gathered in Liverpool on 21 November to create new ideas and concepts to encourage healthy and active ageing - one of the biggest issues and opportunities facing society today.

The event is the latest to be organised by the N8 Industry Innovation Forum (N8 IIF) – set up earlier this year to encourage new collaborations between industry and the eight most research-intensive universities in the North of England to drive innovation, competitive advantage and growth.

Involving over 100 senior figures from industry, charities, the NHS and the N8 group of universities (Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York) the event focuses on digital innovation for health and well-being, ageing skin, and food and nutrition. Companies taking part include Boots, Phillips and AstraZeneca as well as the charities Age UK, Carers UK and Help the Hospices.

Ideas emerging from the event included smart technology to help older adults manage increasingly complex personal health needs and diagnostic tools for improved nutrition.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Chair of the N8 Executive Management Group and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Lancaster University, said:

“The N8 IIF has been very positively received by both industry and the academic world.  There is real desire among academics to engage with industry and see their research make a difference in some of the biggest areas facing society, while industry has the skills and technical know-how required to commercialise ideas and bring them to market.

“An ageing population has implications for healthcare provision and the structure and shape of the labour market. But as well as challenges, there are opportunities – and already we are seeing growth in new sectors such as those providing healthcare services for the very old.

“This event has provided an opportunity for everyone taking part to meet with ‘unlikely partners’ – organisations who they would not normally work with - and we’ve already seen a number of exciting and innovative ideas come out of it as a result.”

The N8 IIF is supported by the Technology Strategy Board and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The first N8 IIF meeting took place in February 2012 and focussed on Advanced Materials, an area which presents huge opportunities for ideas and applications across a range of sectors in the UK including chemicals, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and aerospace. Discussions at the event led to a number of ideas for multi-partner collaboration and generated 25 new industry-led ideas for university research - of which four were progressed to Stage 2 funding.

To find out more about the N8 Industry Innovation Forum, visit or join the online N8 IIF community at