Living lab launched to reinvent modern ageing

| October 14, 2018

A centre dedicated to designing products and services specifically to help older people live better lives has opened in South Australia.

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing in Adelaide has been established so people, businesses, researchers and governments can work together to seize the opportunities presented by modern ageing.

The centre includes a living laboratory – called LifeLab – a testing and innovation facility which allows people in their 60s and older to co-design products and services with businesses in an environment as close as possible to real life.

Target market segments include food, packaging, assistive devices, technology, active living, education and lifelong learning.

South Australia, which has the oldest population of any mainland Australian state, has been positioning itself as a global leader in the emerging industry of ‘ageing well’ for several years.

Global Centre for Modern Ageing chair Raymond Spencer said the modern ageing movement recognised there was a fundamental shift in how the elderly lived.

“Instead of working until retirement and then becoming ‘old’, in modern ageing our lives play out in phases,” Spencer said.

“Each phase creates a new and different opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way – through work, learning, enterprise, leadership and community.”

Among the first projects secured by the Centre are initiatives with international technology giant IBM and leading publisher Pacific Magazines.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that by 2050 there will be 8.8 million residents aged 65 and over in a population of 42 million. That is, 21 per cent of Australians will be 65 or older.

In the Asia-Pacific, the number will grow from just over half a billion now to 1.3 billion by 2050. That is, in our region alone, an extra 800 million older people – an increase of more than 30 times the entire population of Australia.

Global Centre for Modern Ageing chief executive officer Julianne Parkinson said this represented an enormous opportunity for Australia.

She said older people were looking for more and better choices such as flexible arrangements that allowed them to continue to participate as workers or volunteers for longer, meaningful social activities and more nutritious and tasty food.

“We are here to give an edge to businesses wanting to gain early-mover advantage in developing products and services which truly meet the wants and needs of people,” Parkinson said.

“The sheer size of the market, changing preferences and consumption patterns as evidenced by the data (both in Australia and overseas), should excite the business community to invest time to understand this new and dynamic set of consumers which is creating opportunities for people of all ages.

“Gaining a considered and informed view will equip entrepreneurs to target the vast array of wants and needs that the market has not yet fully recognised.”

The Global Centre for Modern Ageing is the leading organisation operating in this space not only nationally but also more broadly in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is headquartered in the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide’s southern suburbs and has been founded with seed funding from the South Australian Government.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall officially launched the centre in Adelaide yesterday.

“We want all residents to live purposeful lives, enjoy good health and thrive in the wonderful environment we have, here in South Australia,” Marshall said.

“The Global Centre for Modern Ageing will play a key role in this.

“Through market development, partnerships, research and learning, the Centre will help businesses, organisations and individuals to devise, build and commercialise products and services that enable people in their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and more to live and age well.”

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Andrew Spence

Andrew Spence is a journalist, editor, leader and manager with more than 13 years experience in the South Australian media industry.