An initiative spearheaded in Louth by two Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) research centres has been named as one of the top projects in Europe at an EU awards ceremony for active and healthy ageing practices.
The DKIT-based Netwell and Casala and Netwell research centres are working alongside Louth County Council, University College Cork and others in what is called the Collaboration on Ageing (COLLAGE).
COLLAGE was among 32 initiatives to be named as a “reference site” by the Commission – but one of only 13 to receive the top three-star status.
The award was accepted in Brussels by Louth County Manager Joan Martin.
EU Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes described the awards as the “Oscars of innovation for ageing” and stressed that COLLAGE and the other recipient projects were paving the way for a healthier and age-friendly society.
“This is fantastic news for County Louth and will see COLLAGE providing professional advice to EU member states and regions for the design of their innovation strategies for smart specialisation and enhancing local ability to access Horizon 2020, Europe’s €70billon flagship research and development programme for 2014-2020,” said Rodd Bond, Director of the Netwell Centre.
“Our regional activities in Louth have established a global reputation for leading new ways in service delivery and collaborations on the ground providing innovative services for older people.
“Working alongside our partners in COLLAGE, we aim to play our part in the EU’s aims to increase the average healthy lifespan of Europeans by two years by 2020.
“The emphasis now is on scaling up the projects and applying them throughout Europe.”
Reference sites are examples of a comprehensive, innovation-based approach to active and healthy ageing, such as coalitions of regions, cities, integrated hospitals, primary, community and third party care organisations that are able to demonstrate their impact and show particular innovative practices which could be transferred to other European contexts.