Digital economy

OECD-APEC workshop on research and innovation to meet ageing challenge


Experts from around the world convened on 12-13 September 2012 to discuss policy issues around ageing populations and the emergence of the “silver economy”. The workshop, co-organised by the OECD and APEC, was held at Waseda University in Tokyo and sponsored by the Government of Japan. Participants included representatives from over 20 OECD and APEC countries, NGOs, World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission (EC), and Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC).

Discussions explored how countries might transform the global ageing challenge into new sources of growth in such areas as health and nursing care, education, transportation and community development. The workshop concluded that countries must innovate to mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of ageing. This includes accelerating social and organisational innovation, as well as unlocking the potential of information technologies and strengthening the current science and biomedical base through increased research.  Other steps include the need to align policies with user-driven needs, to promote scalable solutions and cross-cutting research, and to raise the social and political awareness around ageing.

Specific policy outcomes include:

  • encouraging policy reforms to support interoperability of technologies
  • enabling new mechanisms for the sharing of large data sets for research on ageing
  • highlighting the roles of entrepreneurship and innovative financing
  • showcasing the role of new ICT-led technologies for ageing populations
  • recognising the need for “user-led” and solutions-oriented innovation approaches and developing age-friendly living and workplace environments and communities.

Particular concern was expressed about the slow pace of research and innovation to address the rapidly accelerating global crisis related to Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia in an ageing society. This calls for the development of an urgent and global Alzheimer’s strategy that includes critical re-evaluation of well-accepted traditional conceptions of health care services,  expanded research investments, co-ordinated national strategies, and a recognition of the massive implications of Alzheimer’s for economic growth.

The workshop made a strong call for a whole-of-government approach to achieve policy coherence, as well as for strengthening public-private partnerships and promoting collaboration among multiple actors, both locally and globally. International actions will be condensed into a series of policy recommendations for OECD member countries.

For further information:
Elettra Ronchi
OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry