Carelink, represented by TSSG and UNINOVA, attended the AAL Forum 2017 in Coimbra, Portugal where there were nearly 600 attendees discussing the various advancements in the AAL domain with regards to research, industry and market potential. The AAL Forum, which is an annual event, is Europe’s premier event in the field of active and healthy ageing.

In the opening speech, we were told about a new demographic of older people emerging – “the new old” – who live their lives to the full, travel the world and are anxious to try new things. These ‘new old’ are reimagining what retired life should be about, and during her speech Sacha Nauta (finance correspondent for The Economist) told the audience that we need to treat them as we see ourselves – active, healthy people with time to do the things they love.

Over the next few days there were a series of interactive workshops where people with various interests were brought together to discuss, brainstorm and learn from each other. All of these allow the attendees to return to their home organizations with fresh ideas and concepts to implement into their daily work or to bring further into their research process.

The first workshop attended was an AAL2Business workshop where we were instructed on the business planning concepts on how to bring an idea from what is generally a project concept into a marketable product and how to analyze the market to ensure that the product is targeting and reaching the correct audience for maximum exposure and uptake.

One of the key points that reverberated throughout the whole conference was the need to include the user from the very beginning and it is important that any AAL solution must match the needs of the user if it is to be a success. Without this match, we are developing technology for technology sake and not addressing the needs of the market.

On the second day, the plenary session brought together representatives from regional, national and European levels, including care organizations, SMEs and Users in order to hold a discussion on the current and future AAL related policy actions and funding initiatives, looking to see how future initiatives can address stakeholders across all levels.

Overall the conference was a great success from the Carelink perspective. It validated our approach of involving users from the very beginning of the project as well as tackling the business perspective very early on, as opposed to leaving it until the end when it is often too late to adjust to market needs. This AAL Forum provided the perfect arena which allowed us the opportunity to create awareness about Carelink, as we are one of the youngest projects in the AAL Framework program and have been received with enthusiasm and high expectation by the AAL representatives and the community as a whole.

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