Background and Aim
The main aim of iAge was to improve the regional development of areas in decline that were affected by an ageing population through promoting and increasing economic and social e-inclusion.
In iAge, partners from six countries in the North Sea Region cooperated and worked transnationally to develop new approaches to service delivery and economic restructuring through joint development of ICT innovation. Through e-inclusion, iAge aimed at reducing gaps in ICT usage and promoted the use of ICT to overcome exclusion, improve employment opportunities, quality of life and social participation.
Transnational activities and joint analyses created an economy of scale to allow positive achievements towards the EU 2020 objectives of innovation and employment and enabled regions to improve the quality of results.
Although not as rapid as in other parts of Europe (Eastern and Southern Europe) every region in the North Sea Region is faced with demographic ageing, which will oblige policy makers to review the way in which they respond to the needs of their citizens. Society has changed rapidly over recent years. Local stakeholders, town planners, public transport operators, public health organisations, social service providers, architects, social housing organisations, older citizens’ groups, universities, etc. need to find the right response to the specific challenges faced by the European ageing populations.
Until 2030, the number of people of 65+ will rise by more than 50%, which will have a significant impact on pensions, health care and the labour market and has implications for the sustainability of our communities, especially in areas in decline. From 2012, the European working-age population will start to shrink, while the over-60 population will continue to increase and it is expected to affect key drivers of regional growth such as productivity, investment and consumption.
In relation to the above it is easy to understand why the Europe 2020 strategy mentions demographic ageing as one of the main challenges for the coming decade. At the same time: today's senior people are healthier, more mobile and qualified, ICT skilled and dispose of more purchasing power than any generation before. Their needs and expectations are diverse, but all of them aspire a high quality of life and high quality services. This leads to increasing demand for new products and services - a growing market, which more and more entrepreneurs discover. The North Sea Region could benefit from this potential and develop dynamic and successful communities.
iAge acknowledged the importance of new technologies for economic activity and new ways of delivering services. Different ways of guaranteeing accessibility (in relation to economic opportunities, services and social networks) should be stimulated. Joint implementation to increase the use of ICT gained in importance to keep the growing number of elderly active and participate in social and work life, thereby increasing the regional and economic development in regions which face population and economic decline. iAge adhered to inclusive growth, modernising the labour market and helping elderly anticipate to change through ICT skills and training.