Why equal access to entrepreneurship is key

Angela Bradshaw, an expert vascular biologist, Project Officer for Alzheimer Europe and Smart Ageing Prize judge, explains why engaging in enterprise is so important for older adults and specifically for those living with dementia.

In her former position as an academic researcher, Angela studied the ways in which our blood vessels start to deteriorate as we age, causing conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and strokes. The aim of her research was to improve the lives of people living with these conditions by finding new targets for drugs or developing surgical interventions. Using a digital analogy, her “sensors are finely tuned to find exciting solutions that can have a real, positive and empowering effect for older people – including people living with dementia and their caregivers”. 

The world’s ageing population is, on the one hand, a success story of modern medicine and research, however, with people living longer, the world also faces more challenges. With dementia affecting 5-8% of people aged over 60, Angela considers the support of people with dementia and those caring for them to be essential.

After her PhD, she continued her academic career working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and later, Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and took on the role of General Secretary for the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy. Her various roles taught her how to engage non-scientific audiences in ongoing conversations about research, helping to close the gap between scientists and the society they aim to help.

“We know from studies that brain training and cognitive exercise can really help slow the memory decline experienced by people living with dementia. And what better way to exercise your brain than to engage in entrepreneurship.”

Angela’s priorities for the Smart Ageing Prize Judging Panel

Since 2019, Angela has been a Project Officer at Alzheimer Europe, a non-profit and non-governmental organisation. Their aim is to provide a voice to people with dementia and their carers – promoting a rights-based approach to the condition, supporting continued research into its associated disorders and strengthening the European dementia movement. Working at Alzheimer Europe allows Angela to use her scientific knowledge, analytical abilities and communication skills to help make dementia a European priority, both at the policy and the research level. Currently she is working on research projects under H2020 and the Innovative Medicines Initiative, including VirtualBrainCloud and Neuronet.

Angela brings a combined ethical and scientific perspective to the Smart Ageing Prize judging panel. She states: “I think there is an ethical imperative to Senior Enterprise. It is really important that all people have equitable access to the benefits of entrepreneurship.” The Smart Ageing Prize exists to empower older adults – currently a demographic underestimated in society – to engage with enterprise and make full use of its benefits.

“Here at Alzheimer Europe, we really understand the importance of new assisted technologies to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers, for example by increasing their independence or ensuring their safety.”