Demographic Change, Ageing & Health

Contributing to SDG 3 (Health and Population)

Over the next decades, Europe will face unprecedented demographic challenges such as ageing and shrinking population and ‘ageing regions’ due to demographic factors such as longer life expectancy and decreased fertility of European citizens. Next to changes in family structures, the enhanced migration to Europe, as well as within Europe to more affluent regions, will further continue. As a consequence, fast changes in social life are to be expected. In order to minimise negative effects on the economy and society, urgent actions and successful and effective co-operation of public, private, and civil society organisations are needed.

ZSI is engaged in several projects aiming at minimising negative effects for the most disadvantaged (persons or regions). We conduct research and advise public authorities and intermediate bodies, respectively, on how to best set up policy interventions jointly aiming at sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. Medicine, health, care, ageing, demographic change are dealt with through the lense of our staffs' competencies in evaluation, support to co-creation processes, understanding of responsible research and innovation, citizen science, maker spaces and the like, regional economic development, labour market, education or social policy.

One of our past projects in this area was "INNOV-CARE -Innovative patient-centred approach for social care provision to complex conditions", where we evaluated pilot case management. We also dealt with the areas of precision medicine, 3D printing in the biomedical field, and synthetic biology in the project "SMART-map" which developed roadmaps to societal mobilisation for the advancement of Responsible Industrial Technologies.

Furthermore, our Active Ageing Team works with actors 'on the ground'. The projects link policies horizontally as well as vertically, i.e. local and regional actions implemented across various policy fields should go hand in hand with policy changes at the national and international levels: for example, within the project "Central European Knowledge Platform for an Ageing Society", for instance, we cooperated with ministries, NGO's, and enterprises across territories in Central Europe.

The project "Careables" (Made4You) in which ZSI also plays an important role provides Open and Inclusive Healthcare for Citizens Based on Digital Fabrication. We facilitate co-design of open healthcare for people with physical limitations, building an ecosystem, linking existing local communities of citizens with disabilities and their families, healthcare professionals and makers and establishing collaboration between these separate communities to develop their own open-source and license interventions.

The projects are trans-disciplinary and implemented within all four ZSI activity dimensions, i.e. research, education, policy advice, and network coordination. Our contracting authorities comprise various General Directorates of the European Commission such as DG Employment, Education, Research and Innovation, OECD LEED, Austrian Federal Ministries, the King Baudouin Foundation, and others.

Ansprechperson: Dr. habil. Ursula Holtgrewe

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