DUBLIN, Ireland, Jan. 30, 2007 – Intel Corporation, in conjunction with the IDA today announced a multi-million dollar research initiative based in Ireland to address the growing wave of ageing citizens in Europe and around the world, which will develop innovative technologies to help people “age in place” from wherever they choose to live. Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin TD officiated at the launch today.
Intel and IDA Ireland are investing approximately US$30 million in the Technology Research for Independent Living (TRIL) Centre over a period of three years to collaborate with several leading Irish universities, including University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and National University of Ireland, Galway to create one of the largest research efforts of this type in the world.
Speaking at today’s announcement, Minister Martin said, “This Research Centre will be of outstanding strategic value to Ireland in terms of collaborative work between leading academic institutions and Intel, enhancing skills development, knowledge acquisition and making Ireland highly competitive within Europe and the world in this field. Ireland has an active, high-quality research sector in the healthcare domain including bio-engineering and bio-informatics. The TRIL Centre will build on this and position Ireland as a centre of excellence for this type of research in Europe.”
“IDA Ireland worked closely with Intel to win this project for Ireland. Digital Health has been identified by Intel as a strategic area for the future and today’s announcement is a milestone for Ireland in terms of future development prospects with the potential of making the country a world centre, not just for ageing but also for other digital health projects. We are delighted that Intel, one of our leading multinational companies chose Ireland for its Digital Health Centre. Its means that our reputation as a location for substantive R&D will be significantly enhanced” added Minister Martin.
The TRIL Centre brings together world-class industry and academic experts who are inventing and testing new technologies with older people, and their families, to support them in continuing to live independently. In the face of a looming healthcare crisis of a rapidly ageing European population, the TRIL Centre aims to address the urgent need for innovative healthcare technologies. It is estimated that by 2050, one third of Europe’s population will be over the age of 65 (i). Figures show that between 2004 and 2050 the older population age 65 years and over will rise sharply, from 75 million to 133 million (ii). The ageing population along with growth in chronic conditions (iii) presents profound economic, budgetary and social consequences.
Commenting on the launch today, Eric Dishman, General Manager of Intel’s Health Research and Innovation Group, says, “We have to invent a new way to care for our planet’s ageing population. Current healthcare systems are not equipped to face the epidemic of age-related illnesses and injuries that are coming. Information and communication technologies offer us a means to prevent disease and injury, to detect problems earlier before they become catastrophes, to help older people better manage their own health conditions at home, and to personalise care to their unique needs and preferences. All of us will benefit from these kinds of technologies, first as caregivers for our own ageing parents and, if we’re lucky, for ourselves some day.”
“The TRIL Centre is about building and accelerating research collaborations to test these independent living technologies with older people in Ireland and throughout Europe. This is one of our planet’s most pressing social and economic issues; it deserves and demands our attention, our investment, and all of the technology innovation that we can imagine,” Eric added.
The TRIL Centre will focus on three key areas: improving social health and community engagement for older people, detecting and preventing falls in the home, and helping those with memory loss to maintain their independence. These research areas are important as a decline in physical or mental performance associated with becoming older is often coupled with a decline in self-confidence and in social interactions. Age related physical decline includes an increased risk in falls and fall-related injuries, which are a major cause of concern for older people and caregivers and indeed a major public health concern worldwide. Falls and fall-related injuries account for over 80 percent of all injury-related admissions to the hospital for people over 65 years (iv).
Anne-Sophie Parent, Director of AGE – the European Older People’s Platform and President of the Platform of European Social NGO’s says, “The vast majority of older people want to “age in place” – live in their own homes – and technology that allows them to do this will help them live more independent lives, making them feel safer and more secure. Projects such as the TRIL Centre are vital and valuable initiatives for preparing for the future. Technologies that offer early detection and early warnings can prevent unnecessary hospitalisation or injuries, avoid care-giver burnout and provide peace of mind to the older person, clinician, family and other care-givers. From a healthcare system point of view, these types of technologies lead to better allocation of resources, which ultimately lead to better care,” she adds.
The implications of the TRIL Centre may extend beyond older people, with the potential of its research offering hope to individuals affected by disabilities, which inhibit their ability to live with dignity and prosperity in their own preferred environments.
The TRIL Centre is part of a wider global approach by Intel to build on its current U.S. ageing research and expand its understanding of the social and cultural differences of the ageing demographics of Europe – ensuring the development of the most appropriate technologies suitable for a wider multi-cultural audience. Intel recently formed the Health Research and Innovation Europe (HRIe) team, their first health research innovation resource outside the U.S., based at Intel’s European manufacturing headquarters in Ireland.
The combination of a young, educated workforce with access to the rapidly ageing population of Europe, coupled with Intel’s research and development investment, offers Ireland a unique opportunity to take a strong leadership role in the development of home health technology and services industry. With the market set to explode in the coming decades, the TRIL Centre presents an opportunity of vast economic growth in Ireland as new, technology-enabled care services emerge to help improve the ageing experience for everyone.
(i) Green Paper – Faced with demographic change, a new solidarity between the generations. Communication from the European Commission, COM. 2005; 94. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/news/2005/mar/comm2005-94_en.pdf. Accessed: January 2007.
(ii) Economic Policy Committee and European Commission, 2006, The impact of ageing on public expenditure: projections for the EU25 Member States on pensions, health care, long-term care, education and unemployment transfers (2004–2050), European Economy, Special Report No. 1 (Brussels: European Commission). Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/european_economy/2006/eesp106en.pdf. Accessed: January 2007
(iii) International Longevity Centre (2006), The state of ageing and health in Europe report. Available at: http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/publications.cfm. Accessed: January 2007.
(iv) Pekka Kannus, Karim M Khan and Stephen R Lord. Preventing falls among elderly people in the hospital environment. The Medical Journal of Australia 2006; 184 (8): 372-373. Available at: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/184_08_170406/kan10106_fm.html. Accessed: January 2007.