£300m technology fund to help the elderly announced by UK government

The government has announced a £300m fund to develop technologies designed to help the elderly.

The government’s ‘Ageing Society Grand Challenge’ will see £98m spent on a ‘healthy ageing programme’ and £210m for a ‘data to early diagnosis and precision medicine programme’ to improve diagnosis of disease and develop new medical treatments and technologies.

With 10 million Britons currently alive expected to reach the age of 100, ministers say they need to “revolutionise” the way people get older, ensuring they remain healthy and independent for longer.

Under the plans set out by Business Secretary Greg Clarke, the competitive fund will see the creation of a series of regional centres across the UK to improve the diagnosis of patients using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Applying AI to medical images has the potential to diagnose disease more accurately, therefore providing more targeted treatment and increasing efficiency in the health system.

Each centre will enable companies, including SMEs, to rapidly develop, test and implement products and systems in partnership with doctors and academics.

It will also invest in genome sequencing, drawing on the genomes of 500 ‘Biobank’ volunteers to develop tools for early diagnosis of illness and disease and a new wave of therapies.

In addition, another £40m will be going to the UK Dementia Research Institute, in partnership with University College London, to create a new hub hosting 350 leading scientists, researching new treatments for the condition.

“We are investing over £300m into developing the treatments of the future, in new technologies that will revolutionise the way we age and provide everyone with the best possible chance to grow old with dignity in their own home,” Clark said.

“By 2020, we want to be the best country in the world for dementia care and research and today’s announcement of £40m for the Dementia Research Institute is a vitally important step on that journey.”

An estimated 850,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia and early diagnosis can help sufferers’ better cope with the condition.

Earlier this year, in January, Japanese scientists unveiled prototype versions of robotic ‘muscles’ that could bring extra mobility to elderly patients or those suffering from strokes and other conditions. 

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