The Healthy Ageing Marketplace
Working with industry partners and businesses across the UK, our Pathfinder Innovation Programme invests in design and design-led innovation to develop products, services and environments that will enable people to enjoy five extra healthy, independent years of life and to remain at work for longer.
Our investment into innovative design for the under-exploited healthy ageing market includes seed funding, access to cutting edge-research, business opportunity scoping and mentoring, as well as connecting project teams with design expertise. Projects will address key priorities across the core sectors of home, health and work
Pathfinder Innovation Programme Case Studies
Discover more about projects we have invested in below:
- Announcement from September 2023, introducing four Mobility Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme Awardees and three Zinc x DAI Pathfinder Innovation Programme Awardees
- Announcement from June 2023, introducing the four Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme Awardees
- Press release from January 2023, launching the Transport & Mobility Pathfinder Innovation Programme, supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Healthy Ageing Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency
- Press release from January 2022, launching the first six Pathfinder Projects and announcing a call out for new applicants, supported by Research England
BelleVie Care is a purpose-driven community supporting people across Oxfordshire and Northumberland to live their best lives from the comfort of their own home. Their vision is to foster a society that appreciates the importance of fulfilling careers in care, ensuring that every member of the care ecosystem is supported through meaningful, reciprocal relationships. By employing small, self-managed local teams, they actively pursue their mission to reinvent the future of care and enable communities to thrive.
With the support of the funding, Fredi Nonyelu, Founder/CEO of Briteyellow, and Michael Davies, Insight and Innovation Manager from Transport for Wales, will further develop BriteWay-XR – a connected guidance app and web portal that enables safer, and more accessible journeys for all.
BriteWay-XR allows older people and those with reduced mobility, to plan their journeys more effectively, and travel independently with confidence. Using virtual reality and augmented reality navigation with indoor position tracking, BriteWay-XR provides individuals with the assurance of real-time support from staff or family and friends. Real-time accessibility information and intelligent routing is used to reassure and route people in a way that avoids overcrowding and provides guidance through complex interchanges.
Centaur - increased mobility for the world we live in
Centaur is a revolutionary self-balancing, two-wheeled personal electric vehicle. The Design Age Institute is already collaborating with Centaur Robotics to enhance the way the Centaur communicates with users.
Now the Institute and Centaur Robotics are teaming up with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust to further enhance the vehicle’s sophisticated technology and the support services that make it easier to drive the vehicle. The work will also increase the potential market for the Centaur, which will be available at an affordable price.
Design principles and research enabled by the Design Age Institute will help make the Centaur attractive and ultra-safe for mobility impaired people in communities and private homes, both across the UK and internationally.
Centaur Human Machine Interface (HMI) optimised for older adults living at home
Centaur Robotics are the makers of electric vehicles designed to keep people mobile whatever their age. The Centaur is a revolutionary self-balancing, two-wheeled personal electric vehicle. Having previously been awarded funding by Design Age Institute in 2022, they have now been awarded further funding to optimise the Human Machine Interface of their vehicles for the cognitive and physical consideration of older adults.
Coaroon coat - staying warm at home
As we age, a number of different body changes affect our tolerance to cold temperatures. This can have a significant impact on our health and independence. Coaroon, which takes its name from ‘cocoon coat’ and from the Scottish word ‘coorie’ meaning cuddle, is a garment for the home that supports an individual’s freedom of movement, while sustaining an even body temperature across a range of everyday activities, from reading, to working, to cooking. Conscious of the increasing costs of heating and its environmental impact, the creators of Coaroon, Joan Johnston and Sarah Morehead, were inspired to produce a skilfully made garment that helps people live longer, and more sustainably, at home.
Data-driven diabetes management
The Design Age Institute, in collaboration with Sheffield University and DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating), is working on a project to explore the design inclusivity of the WithCare+/Glucollector technology platform, a unique data-driven, evidence-based, bio-psycho-social integrated technology platform developed at Sheffield for diabetes management.
The project will allow the platform to be accessible to more people with diabetes. The platform will be both website and app enabled technology that allows diabetics to monitor their glucose levels quickly and easily at home, encouraging exercise and mobility, whilst also allowing healthcare professionals full data access and monitoring when required. This will enable optimal personalised control leading to better glucose control, avoidance of complications, improved quality of life and reduced costs.
Eyecatcher, developed by Irida Health, is a first-of-its-kind, smart-glasses system empowering glaucoma patients to measure their own vision at home and enabling timely interventions that can preserve sight. Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease and the second leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. It affects 1 in 50 people over age 40 (and 1 in 10 over 70) with over 100 million cases worldwide. Traditionally glaucoma is treated through in-person hospital care, but with an ageing population this model is becoming increasingly inefficient and unsustainable. Eyecatcher aims to provide ‘hospital-grade’ vision assessments that can be performed at home.
Gita - a cargo-carrying robot companion
Gita® is a first-of-its-kind cargo-carrying following robot. The Gita robot pairs with a person and follows them while they walk. It can carry up to 18kg of cargo freeing the hands of the user. The Gita robots are being tested by Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), where they will study human experiences and interactions with the robots and explore user acceptance. NICA is a Design Age Institute partner.
The aim of the Gita robot is to supply older people with an intuitive and responsive companion, enabling them to have the confidence to engage with the outside world and their communities in a meaningful way. Designer-in-Residence Roseanne Wakely has been brought into the project from Design Age Institute to explore and expand the capabilities of Gita. She is using Gita as a platform to consider how older people can accommodate robots in their everyday lives in the city and support healthy ageing. Gita provides a new lens that grants them the opportunity to re-imagine and dream of their ideal city of the future. You can watch videos that showcase the benefits of Gita, including Health, Conversation and Companionship, here.
Innovative Cable Improving Charging Limitations Excluding Older People from Electric Vehicles
Hangar19 is an engineering solutions company enabling the development and delivery of electric vehicle services, equipment and associated energy infrastructure. After noticing that some users of their Park and Recharge electric vehicle charging service were experiencing challenges in connecting the cable to the car, they decided they needed to develop a solution.
Hangar19 will receive support to develop Innovative Cable Improving Charging Limitations Excluding Seniors from EVs (ICICLES-EV) – a new electric vehicle charging cable and gun targeted at those with mobility impairments.
Through a new innovative design that reduces the amount of force required to successfully plug in a vehicle, ICICLES-EV aims to simplify the process of moving and connecting the cable.
Hearing Birdsong - an app to support early hearing loss diagnosis
Hearing loss drives many critical age-related challenges, including social isolation, with strong links to increased dementia risks and cognitive deterioration. Design Age Institute will work with Kennedy Woods to develop a Hearing Birdsong app that will remove the barriers of social stigma and poor user design which currently leaves millions of people undiagnosed with an age-related hearing impairment and contributes to an average delay of 10 years.
Hearing Birdsong is an immersive digital audioscape that uses the inviting sound of British birdsong to engage people with their hearing health. It aims to humanise the diagnostic process and inspire users to protect their hearing health and long-term wellbeing by reconnecting with the natural environment. Hearing Birdsong has previously been trialled as a physical installation.
Home Office - living, working and ageing in place
The housing industry in the UK does not respond to the challenges of growing old. It continues to build homes that are very difficult to adapt, compromising the ability of people to age in place.
Northumbria University will be working with Design Age Institute to design and develop a purpose-built live/work environment within a prototype home, to be built at South Seaham Garden Village in County Durham. The project is supported by Karbon Homes as part of their commitment to ageing innovation and ageing-in-place strategies within the village. This design research will lead to a blueprint of how older people can work efficiently and effectively from home and remain productive beyond retirement age.
The prototype will consider layout, ergonomics, flexible and demountable furniture, lighting, and smart technology. It will be codesigned with members of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and older people, in collaboration with the NICA and Voice.
Inclusive Wayfinding Toolkit
Applied Information, the global multidisciplinary wayfinding consultancy who worked with Transport for London to develop ‘Legible London’ – the international standard for city wayfinding – have secured support to develop a prototype for a new Inclusive Wayfinding Toolkit.
The Toolkit will propose an improved system of wayfinding for walking and cycling throughout the UK that specifically addresses the needs and aspirations of a diverse ageing marketplace. The Toolkit seeks to improve mobility, socialisation, and access to local services, while also generating connection, safety and confidence in the public who use it.
The team will work with local authorities to develop the prototype, which they’ll co-create and test with members of the public from a range of backgrounds, ages, genders, ethnicities, and disabilities, with an expected completion date of January 2024.
Intellage - smart insoles for active ageing
IntellAge is a smart insole system for daily use. It aims to keep users active and safe by digitally tracking mobility and gait through a smart sensor system that feeds data into an app. By connecting users to real time information and prompts, they can not only understand and better manage their risk of falls, but also to improve their gait and function through haptic vibrations that can boost balance over time. Created by Walk With Path, the project was inspired by founder Lise Pape’s experience of her father’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, and its impact on his independence, mobility and wellbeing.
Invisible Creations® from ProCare created the Design for Dignity™ range to support people to live independently for longer. Each of the range’s products combines aesthetics with accessibility, removing the stigma of design for home mobility. At the core is a belief that ‘homes should be a haven, not a hospital.’ Their new product, Sheila’s Secret Planter will combine everyday garden items, like plant pots and window boxes, with grab rails to provide access to the outdoors, promote mobility and prevent falls, without compromising on dignity and style.
Let there be light - light, darkness and wellbeing
Luii - freedom from incontinence
Urinary incontinence, meaning to pass urine unintentionally, is a common condition of later life. An estimated 2.4 million people over 65 in the UK experience incontinence, with the everyday impacts negatively affecting health and wellbeing for many individuals and their families. Luii hand held urinals, created by Binding Sciences Limited, enable both able-bodied users and those with reduced mobility or dexterity to manage incontinence discreetly and flexibly, and maintain their independence and quality of life.
Founder Keith Binding was inspired by his mother’s experience with incontinence issues to create accessible, gender inclusive products, that enable those who are aware of when they need to urinate to do so unaided, with dignity and confidence, remaining dry throughout.
Out of Office: guidance on working from home as we age
Design Age Institute collaborated with researchers from Northumbria University and Loughborough University to explore the principals of working well from home in a new guide on designing better workstations.
More people than ever are working into their later years, and increasing numbers are working from home, including setting up businesses and remote working. Too frequently, many of us are left to set up home offices or workstations with little guidance or understanding on how to work healthily, especially as we get older.
Out of Office: guidance on working from home as we age, addresses the lack of specific guidance for setting up home workstations for different health conditions.
Out of Office, was inspired by workshops with users including Physiotherapists and Occupational Health professionals involved in Home Office to Age in Place project, led by Northumbria University and supported through the Institute’s Pathfinder Innovation Programme.
Riser Chair - enabling sitting and standing
Riser Chair aims to assist users with sitting and standing while being a piece of furniture that people will not only need, but will want in their homes and offices. Creator Ali Jafari, founder of Designed Healthcare Ltd based at Innovation Studio Arts University Bournemouth, was inspired to create Riser Chair by his experience as a nurse assisting patients to sit and stand. Jafari is currently exploring the potential for an emotional attachment between user and chair– with the ambition of turning a daily challenge into a joyful, and even playful experience that improves health and wellbeing.
Supersmith are solving the core problem of all three wheeled mobility scooters: stability. The 3Scooter uses robotics technology to self-level the vehicle aiming to provide the safest mobility scooter available. At just 20kg, it will be one of the lightest mobility scooters on the market and will seat users at 90% of their standing height so they don’t feel ‘looked down on.’ Providing users at any age and of any walking ability with independent mobility.
The Hamlyn Bank - inclusive banking for later life
As we age our banking needs change. However current banking services exclude many older users.
Design Age Institute, in collaboration with the institute partner Newcastle University’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA), are working on a project to explore what a wholly inclusive bank could be.
Designer-in-residence, Roseanne Wakely, has been appointed to work with older bank users to discover their unique banking needs and the types of products and services required to serve them best in a user-friendly and accessible way.
The ‘Shuffler®’ from Trainor Jim is a novel (UK patent granted) portable, lightweight, affordable and easy-to-use piece of exercise equipment specifically designed to be used whilst seated. Founded by Dr Jim Kelly, an NHS GP with 25 years experience of musculoskeletal medicine, and Lee Trainor, an innovator with a background in engineering, the ‘Shuffler®’ aims to revolutionise personal mobility for the UK’s ageing population.
Tides - sensuality for a lifetime
By 2025, over a billion people globally will be experiencing menopause. Tides is a personal massager designed to accompany people during a key period of life where the body changes and evolves, celebrating sensuality for all. Designed by Salome Bazin, founder of Cellule Studio in collaboration with Giulia Tomasello, Tides uses vibration technologies to support people in menopause to navigate their symptoms and minimise impacts on their health and wellbeing to support longevity. Vibration therapy has incredible benefits: from relaxation and pleasure, to increasing blood flow and keeping tissue healthy and oxygenated.
Start-up School for Seniors - later-life entrepreneurs
Startup School for Seniors is an existing series of programmes aimed at people over the age of 50 to enable them to successfully navigate the path to self-employment or launch their own business.
Design Age Institute is working with them on their ‘Learn Your Way’ project which will enable participants to personalise their learning journey to achieve their own goals. To date, participants have done this for themselves, not only finding the material that they need, but also keeping track of their progress using course materials to support launching their new product or service. This can be overwhelming with the amount of content and mechanisms to learn and put it into practice.
Learn Your Way will enable participants to select and create their ideal learning environment. The key is to stay motivated, have fun, and learn your way to better outcomes and business success.
Squiboon uses cutting-edge AI that is delivered through the familiar medium of a TV to facilitate structured, face-to-face conversations that reduce loneliness and increase connections. Squiboon offers a 24/7 AI community facilitator to housing and care providers for older adults that unlocks the potential of residents to build a harmonious community of participation. Their software also provides metrics quantifying the benefits to residents and the housing or care provider.
Waymap aims to ‘make every city in the world accessible to anyone, anywhere’ through their accessible navigation tools. Their design process includes intense research and consultation with blind and low-vision people to ensure users’ needs and wants are reflected alongside comprehensive accessibility.
Waymap has been awarded support to develop Waymap Newcastle – an accessible navigation app specifically for the northeastern city, that works outside, inside and underground to within 1 metre of the desired location, regardless of your GPS signal. The user follows audio instructions to find their way, helping to increase confidence to travel independently.
New Pathfinder Awardees
Meet our newest Pathfinder Innovation Programme Awardees, who will be investing in good design to bring new products and services towards market.
Transport Pathfinder Awardees
Meet our Transport Pathfinder Awardees and their projects, which respond to a growing need for transport options for an ageing population.
WATCH: Mobility Briefing
Watch the briefing event for Design Age Institute’s new Mobility Pathfinder Innovation Programme, with £50-£70k available.
WATCH: Transport Briefing
Watch a recording of the Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme Briefing event.
WATCH: Applicant briefing session
Watch the briefing session for applicants to our Pathfinder Projects and submit your application for up to 50k by 20 February.
WATCH: The Wisdom Hour
Luke Pearson, co-founder of Pearson Lloyd and Intelligent Mobility design student Richard Newman, discuss designing for transport & mobility for every age.
WATCH: The Wisdom Hour
Fashion designers Betty Jackson and Ellen Fowles, sat down for "The Wisdom Hour" to discuss wisdom, designing and ageing in a changing world.
Reimagining the walker
Announcing Michael Strantz (MA Design Products, 2022) as the winner of the Hamlyn Walker Challenge to rethink the walker as reliable, desirable and joyful.
Hamlyn Walker Challenge
A fantastic opportunity to redesign an everyday mobility aid and develop your design at world-leading design consultancy.