Last week many of you will have received a ‘Request for Information’ from UK Research & Innovation pertaining to UKRI's £98 million Healthy Ageing Challenge.
The primary purpose of the survey is to identify more projects and organisations with the capability to develop markets at scale.
I believe this is a sensible move, but it has caused considerable confusion among AAA members, as scale and sustainability were already fundamental elements of our £20 million ‘Expression of Interest’ with Tata Steel. Subsequently, I have received numerous calls and emails. This one captures the essence of your concerns:
“Is this the same initiative that we’ve been working on as consortium members of your Neighbourhoods of the Future? If so, I assume we’ve been wasting our time if they’re starting again…”
I can assure you we have not been wasting our time. Over the past year AAA has made significant progress in building what Jonathan Clemens, Tata’s Head of Marketing for Construction & Infrastructure, calls a coalition of the willing.
But what about our Expression of Interest?
According to UKRI: “The panel agreed that this was a compelling challenge area and could have a transformational social and economic impact on the UK construction and healthy ageing sectors.”
However, they say: “The challenge would benefit from having a sharper focus supported with matched funding from a larger consortium, encompassing more of the housing supply chain, and from fully considering the issue of customer pull, given the complexity of this area.”
And moving forward: “To ensure that the progress we have made is not lost, we would like to continue to work together to establish how we can further develop some of the great ideas behind the proposal.”
This is a fair assessment, consequently I have agreed to work with UKRI's Healthy Ageing and Transforming Construction Challenges to refine and consolidate our proposition to mutual benefit. If you would like to be involved, we are organising a 'meeting of minds' May 14th and 15th in London, with a view to adding meat to the bones of our Expression of Interest.
Scaling the challenge
It would be disingenuous to underestimate the scale of this challenge, which has to address outmoded conceptions of housing and ageing. Both of which lead to a richer set of possibilities in later life.
What is needed is a more holistic approach to R&D, data sharing and commercialisation. This will necessitate more collaboration and coordination between stakeholders and disciplines, which is usually confined within sectors. We intend to disrupt this scenario by concentrating on the construction of physical assets around which the various interrelated and interdependent threads can coalesce, moving towards the common goal outlined in our latest publication: Neighbourhoods of the Future – Better Homes for an Ageing Population – Improving, Construction, Health, Care, Design, Technology and Finance.
So, what are these physical assets?
A large scale network of connected Neighbourhoods of the Future demonstrators. Crucially, these pilot projects will not be driven by grant funding as their primary raison d'etre.
Whilst technology has an important role to play, this is essentially a systems challenge. Employing an integrated platforms approach will enable the Neighbourhoods of the Future consortium to disrupt the marketplace at commercial scale.
To this end, AAA and Tata have been speaking with a wide mix of local authority/developer teams who are addressing specific local needs; willing to share knowledge in a spirit of open innovation, and lead by example.
Join us in London May 14th and 15th at NatWest HQ 250 Bishopsgate, where we will present work in progress and share plans for the next three years.
Who should attend?
Many of the sector experts and thought leaders who contributed to Neighbourhoods of the Future 2019 have committed to speaking at what will be AAA's 5th Congress, generously hosted by Nick Howe and his colleagues at NatWest.
We are looking for passionate individuals and organisations willing to add real value.
For our corporate and SME members this is an excellent business development opportunity.
For local authorities this is a learning and networking opportunity.
For impact minded researchers and universities this is an opportunity to collaborate and potentially benefit from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Health & Care practitioners and 3rd sector stakeholders should come along and make sure your voice is heard.
Thanks to our event sponsors Regents Modular & NatWest - together with strategic partners Tata Steel & RICS, participation is by invitation only (i.e.no charge). We intend to make this our most productive meeting yet. If you are interested in attending, please register here.