News & Events
January 13, 2016
Helping public authorities solving problems through digital research and innovation for ageing well: the Silver project

A pioneering tender process has shown how public authorities can shape healthcare R&D to suit their needs, saving them money and boosting innovation

Launched in 2012, the EU-funded SILVER project has identified new technologies at the pre-commercial stage that can assist elderly people in their everyday lives. Innovative solutions that enable independent living will achieve cost savings for the homecare sector and open up a new market for assisted living tools that is only expected to grow.

In addition, public authorities across Europe must cope with budget cuts while providing care for an ageing population. The SILVER project is pioneering a cost-effective procurement technique that will help identify precise technologies needed while encouraging innovation.

The project began with the launch of an international Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process. Some 33 received tenders were received, and a total of seven promising proposals identified by SILVER’s panel of healthcare and robotics experts before being whittled down to three and then finally one – the LEA (Lean Elderly Assistant) robot.

This robot is designed to enable the elderly to live independently in their own home. Even when relatively mobile and with no cognitive impairment, elderly people can still suffer from age-related symptoms. In these cases, LEA can offer help with daily routines and housekeeping, and assists elderly people to stay active by offering support while walking, sitting down and standing up. The device can also pick up objects, helping elderly people with general muscle weakness and tremors.

Cognitive software has been added in order to enable LEA to remember and recognise objects, faces and places. The robot will soon be able to recognise actions and protocols, helping to monitor daily routines like eating, sleeping and exercising.

Recent trials with end users demonstrated the safety and usability of the innovation, enabling SILVER healthcare and robotics experts to provide the contractor with detailed feedback on how to improve their solution further in order to meet end-user needs and fulfil their market potential. Final tests will take place during the spring and summer of 2016 in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The trialling and adoption of innovative healthcare technologies was facilitated through the project’s promotion of the Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process. This process is designed to stimulate innovation by allowing public authorities to identify promising technologies early and steer the final development of these innovations towards their own specific requirements.

Indeed, a key aim of the project has been to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach in addressing societal and governmental needs. By acting as first buyers of new R&D with important technological needs, public procurers can drive innovation from the demand side, creating opportunities for European high tech SMEs to take international leadership within new markets.

In the long term, the project hopes that familiarisation with the PCP process will enable public organisations to take full advantage of this procurement strategy, improving services and boosting the market for European technology at the same time. On completion of the project in August 2016, there will be a fully documented PCP process in place, capable of being run as a joint cross-border PCP call for tender.

For further information please visit:
SILVER project website

Source: CORDIS