Interview with AAL Director of Operations, Marco Carulli
Launched by the AAL Programme and Nesta Challenges, The Smart Ageing Prize is seeking solutions and innovative projects that will support older adults to start businesses and other entrepreneurship projects.
This could include digital solutions, such as online learning platforms for developing entrepreneurial skills of older adults, or apps that match different teams and generations for creating businesses. Solutions could also use non-digital tools and approaches, for example an academy that supports older adults in launching a business or social enterprise, or a mentoring programme where older adults utilise their knowledge and skills to mentor other generations.
The AAL Director of Operations, Marco Carulli, is confident about finding solutions that will facilitate this support in enterprise for older adults. The prize will select 15 of the strongest applications, and will help boost these projects and provide support to shape them into a sustainable business to be launched into market. We spoke with Marco to get an insight into the Prize, the aims and ambitions around the result.
What is the Smart Ageing Prize?
It is a way to award promising solutions through an innovative process. After speaking with a community of possible proposers, entries by proposers are submitted, then a set of finalists are selected and supported to refine their solution through financial and mentoring support. Three finalists are then awarded with a financial prize at the end of the competition.
Who is providing the funding to make this contest possible?
The financial award is provided by the AAL Programme, with the support of the European Commission (Horizon 2020).
What business-specific need is the AAL Programme hoping to fulfill through the Smart Ageing Prize?
The main business specific need is related to the possibility, for older adults, to share their knowledge and skills amongs generations and empower the retiring or already retired ones to keep active and healthy.
Why are projects that promote the use of technology so important to senior companies?
The use and familiarity with ICT technologies is important in order to both improve and maintain their quality of life and keep them healthy throughout their life-cycle. For the aims of this challenge prize, we are interested in seeing proposals that keep elderly active in transferring their skills and knowledge but also in continuing or making the business after retirement.
Is there a certain fear that older people have of entrepreneurship due to a limited understanding of the latest technology?
Of course; there is as in any solution entailing the use of technology, this is why the AAL Programme supports and encourages a co-creation approach, that is the design, testing, validation and commercialization of the CIT solution together with the end users.
Who is eligible to participate in the Smart Ageing Prize?
This prize is open to individuals, groups and organisations located in the “EU 28” countries plus Canada, Taiwan and the countries Associated to Horizon 2020 (list available here).
What types of projects are you looking for?
We are looking for solutions that support, empower and inspire older adults to engage in entrepreneurship, for example, through the creation of inter-generational teams and skills-sharing, or digital solutions to help bring to life the entrepreneurial ideas and energy of the 60+ age group.
How can participating companies benefit from taking part in the contest?
If selected as one the 15 semifinalists, they will receive exposure to the international (mainly European) community. They will be promoted through our communication networks. Also, they will participate in a two-day training event, where they will be trained on aspects such as business modeling, communication, marketing, investments, impact and other. They will also benefit from a small financial support to finalise their prototype. If selected as one of the winners, they will receive 35,000 , 10,000 or 5,000 euros as an award.