SILVER SMEs aims at developing regional policies that take advantage of the Silver Economy to boost SMEs in our rural areas. After 5 years of inter-regional exchanges of solutions that promote the development of SMEs from the Silver Economy, SILVER SMEs now takes action!

Our partners implement Action Plans to support the Silver Economy in their regions and address the specific challenges of their territory. Today we meet with Alice Charlet, Project Manager at Eurasanté in Lille (France). She reports on how the Action Plan developed by Eurasanté boosts the Silver Economy in region Hauts-de-France.

What are the main actions developed in the region thanks to your SILVER SMEs Action Plan?

Eurasanté is carrying out two main actions in the framework of SILVER SMEs:

  • We implement a new version of our “Silver Surfer” calls for projects, which aim to boost start-ups from the Silver Economy industry. These calls provide SMEs with technical support but also with the possibility to test their innovation in real environments, ensuring their suitability for the needs of older adults.
  • We connect “Silver Surfer” with “Eurasenior”, our Silver Economy incubator. The incubator existed before, we did not create it through SILVER SMEs, but the objective is now to better connect the different initiatives to better support businesses.

How do you technically implement these actions?

We started implementing these actions in June 2021, when launching the version of the Silver Surfer calls. Since these are annual calls, we make improvements and updates each year to develop a better model on the long-term.

A dedicated team from Eurasanté is in charge of implementing and monitoring these actions, including an Innovation Manager and a Project Manager. About €200,000 were required for the new version of the Silver Surfer call for projects.

How are these actions helping to cope with the specific challenges of your territory?

The region Hauts-de-France is ageing fast; by 2030, 25% of our population will be over 60 compared to 20% nowadays. We already have a strong Silver Economy ecosystem in the region, with 400 businesses and 8.000 employees working in this sector. The dynamics of our territory are based on the strategies of our counties and region to make Hauts-de-France a leader in active and healthy ageing. However, we often lack coordination and communication between these stakeholders and useful initiatives are not always known by the general public.

Moreover, a key challenge in the Silver Economy industry is to develop adequate products. Yet, so far we still identified gaps between the services or products developed and the needs of older adults.

Through the Silver Surfer calls, we contribute to bridging the gap between the needs of older people and the innovations developed by businesses. Moreover, by connecting our calls to our incubator, we help to better structure the Silver Economy sector in the regions.

What are the impacts for the businesses and older adults in region Hauts-de-France?

Overall, our actions provide better technical and financial support to SMEs from the Silver Economy. They get the chance to experiment and co-construct their products with end-users at a very early stage of the development phase. They can also access a wide network of relevant stakeholders in the region’s urban and rural areas, from investors to health care organisations and policy makers.

At the same time, the developed products and services contribute to improving the life of older adults. They can access innovations that they contributed to develop and that enable them to stay autonomous or live longer at home.

How has interregional cooperation helped you to build your Action Plan?

Knowledge exchange and study visits were real sources of inspiration to design our actions. In our case, we were very inspired by the “Health Innovation Hub Ireland”, which we discovered during a study visit organized by the Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship. It gave us the idea to better consolidate and connect existing calls for projects and incubators.

Discover more details on these measures in Eurasanté’s Action Plan!