International cooperation in smart living environments for ageing people

SC1-DTH-04-2020 (RIA Research and Innovation action)

Demographic change and the ageing of the population create new heterogeneous challenges for society and, in particular, for ageing people. On top of the health-related age impairments such as poor health, cognitive impairment and frailty, ageing people are at risk of facing situations leading to potential social exclusion with considerable negative consequences for their independence, quality of life, those who care for them, and for the sustainability of health and care systems.

Digital solutions can play a key role when addressing these challenges and, especially those aimed at creating smart living environments for ageing people. For these to be successful, one necessary condition is to ensure users’ acceptance, which in turns requires bringing the users to the centre of the design. Moreover, these environments need to provide innovative user-friendly user interfaces such as voice-based interaction.

These challenges are shared by ageing populations beyond the EU and other countries are also looking into the potential of digital solutions to address them. In this context, there is a need to explore collaboration and cooperation with international efforts in this domain.

This action aims to address these challenges by developing smart living environments for ageing people, while strengthening relevant international collaboration in the area.


Proposals should develop and validate new solutions leading to smart living environments for ageing people, supporting independent active and healthy lifestyles.

The proposed solutions should provide personalised advice, guidance and follow-up for key age and health related issues in daily life which impact the person's ability to remain active, healthy and independent. These may include amongst others diet, physical activity, risk avoidance, preventive measures, lifestyle and activity management, leisure, social participation and overall wellness and health. Proposals should pay particular focus to measures aimed at fostering social participation and avoiding social exclusion.

Proposal should convincingly describe the planned progress beyond state of the art in the development and integration of trusted smart living environments for ageing people, which should build upon intelligent and interoperable information and communication technology (ICT) environments, access to relevant physiological and behavioural data, emotional computing, open platform and Internet of Things approaches.

Proposals should be based on trans-disciplinary research, involving behavioural, sociological, psychological, medical and other relevant disciplines, including gender and cultural aspects.

Proposed solutions should make use and further develop user interaction, including voice-based, taking into account Artificial Intelligence methods for understanding the users' intentions, knowledge extraction and learning. It is essential that they build on active user engagement in order to ensure the understanding of user needs. They need to safeguard ethics, privacy, security and regulatory aspects and take gender issues into account appropriately. The proposed solutions should be unobtrusive and avoid attention theft.

Proposals should include validation in realistic test sites, such as at home or at care centres, in order to demonstrate the expected benefits and impacts.

The proposed research and innovation actions should address one of the following international collaboration possibilities:

  • Cooperation with Japan

Proposals addressing international collaboration with Japan should ensure the use of generalized infrastructures such as cloud system and open sources.

Without limiting the use of specific applications or hardware systems, platform approaches are required to ensure interoperability and future expandability.

Proposals are recommended to foster the adoption of the existing standards (including de-facto/ consortium standards), contributions to appropriate ongoing standardization work, and suggestions of new standards by an EU-Japan joint consortium in order to accelerate practical introduction of the results into societies.

Proposals should be driven by the needs, interests and lifestyles of older people in order to ensure user acceptance, taking into consideration the relevant cultural aspects.

Proposals are expected to contribute to help ageing people remain active and healthy inside and outside their home, by providing action guidance and decision support derived from personal information such as memories and action histories through progress beyond the state of the art in interaction technology and ICT.

The proposed solutions on an open-platform where data collection by sensors, data analysis by artificial intelligence and user-friendly user interfaces cooperatively work are expected to be naturally integrated into ageing people’s daily life and provide emotional support to ageing people.

Proposed solutions should make use and further develop multimodal interaction including voice-based conversation and gesture in order to help ageing people by the most effective and personalized way.

An amount of EUR 4 million will be reserved for proposals focusing on cooperation with Japan.

  • Collaboration with Canada[1]

In addition to the scope and challenge of this topic as defined above, proposals addressing the international collaboration with Canada need to include the use of ICT-based solutions to support smart living environments that address transitions in care challenges for ageing people. Applications should focus on the development, integration and evaluation of eHealth innovations, in collaboration with stakeholders, including eHealth industry partners[2], clinicians, patient/family/caregivers and decision makers, in order to improve health outcomes.

In collaboration with stakeholders, applicants should consider ways to improve the quality of outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of smart living environments that support care transitions. This call supports the integration of smart living environment solutions which are ready to progress beyond the prototype stage for use into care delivery programs and undergo pragmatic evaluation. Applicants are required to use strong research designs; and should provide a clear description and justification of the proposed research methodology to be used.

Funding of the Canadian component of the proposal requires that a proposal also includes one or both of the following research areas as relevant to aging people.


  1. Changing health status or care: Individuals facing changes in their health status or living with chronic or complex health conditions. These individuals experience several handovers among health providers, institutions, hospital units and/or have a change in their care location (e.g., home vs. hospital; community care vs. tertiary care).
  2. Key populations to optimize transition in care outcomes: Populations at increased risk of adverse transition in care outcomes include but not limited to: First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples; individuals residing in rural and/or remote communities; individuals who are transgender; individuals with an intersex condition; older adults and new aging populations (i.e., survivors of diseases/conditions that previously led to early death); new immigrants; and those who experience systemic, cultural and/or language barriers.

The consortium should also have the capacity to:

  • Establish productive partnerships with eHealth innovation industries to co-design eHealth-enabled smart living environments to improve transitions in care;
  • Evaluate the impact, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of eHealth innovations in addressing gaps and inefficiencies using smart living environments in servicing the identified research areas. The evaluation will utilize rigorous research design(s) to generate high-quality (valid and reliable) evidence that will assist in the subsequent spread and scale (sharing) of successful innovations; and
  • Integrate successful eHealth innovations into care delivery programs and promote their uptake and use to support effective and efficient smart living environments.

Example of potential topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Ageing patients/survivors patients with acute, chronic or complex health conditions that are transitioning from hospital to home and supported by Information and Communication technology (ICT)-based solution (i.e. sensors monitoring their vitals and providing feedback to themselves and providers).
  • Ageing patients/survivors of chronic conditions transitioning into a smart living long-term care facility.
  • Implementing smart living environments for managing care transitions of ageing people within different culture and social groups, and/or geographic regions.
  • Evaluation of smart living environment solutions that address transition in care challenges for ageing patients with the capability to progress beyond prototype stage, into care delivery programs for pragmatic evaluation. In alignment with the CIHR Sex, Gender and Health Research policy[3], all proposals requesting funding from the CIHR are expected to consider how sex and/or gender might shape eHealth innovations to support transitions in care for ageing populations.

An amount of EUR 4 million will be reserved for proposals focusing on cooperation with Canada[4].

At least one proposal collaborating with Japan and at least one proposal collaborating with Canada should be funded under this action. The evaluation of proposals will be jointly carried out by the Commission and the relevant Japanese and Canadian funding organisations as applicable.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Participation of SMEs is encouraged.

Due to the specific challenge of this topic, in addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the General Annexes, proposals shall include at least one organisation as partner in the consortium from Japan[5] or Canada[6] .

Expected Impact

The proposal should provide appropriate indicators to measure its progress and specific impact in the following areas:

  • Independent living, and quality of life of older persons compared to current state of the art;
  • Usefulness and effectiveness of personalized recommendations and follow-up in terms of the goals of preserving physical, cognitive, mental and social well-being for as long as possible;
  • Evidence of user-centred design and innovation, effective ways of human computer interaction, and user acceptance;
  • Fostering social participation and reducing social exclusion’s risks;
  • Validation of non-obtrusive technology for physical, cognitive, social and mental well-being;
  • Strengthened international cooperation in Research and Innovation on ICT for AHA.

Cross-cutting Priorities

International cooperation
Socio-economic science and humanities
Open Science

[1]This collaboration is a component of the CIHR Transitions in Care Initiative, one of CIHR's multi-Institute Initiatives. This multi-Institute Initiative is led by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and includes a number of dedicated funding opportunities focused on supporting research that aims to transform the Canadian health system to optimize the outcomes of patients experiencing transitions in care.

[2]In Canada small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are the primary driver of innovation in most industrial sectors, including eHealth. Team grants are intended to foster an alignment of funding and incentives with SME funding and support agencies at the federal, provincial, territorial and regional levels, as well as with national and multi-national industries. As such, eHealth Innovation partners are targeted towards (but not limited to) Canadian SMEs and foreign subsidiaries in the digital health care/medtech sector.

[3]Applicants are encouraged to visit the CIHR sex- and gender-based analysis resource page for more information on key considerations for the appropriate integration of sex and gender in their proposal.

[4]In addition, the total amount available to the Canadian component of the team focusing on cooperation with Europe is expected to be CAD $1,920,000, enough to fund up to two (2) grants. The maximum CIHR amount per grant is $240,000 per year for up to four (4) years for a total of $960,000, per grant. Of note, Canadian applicants must secure partnership contributions equivalent to a minimum of 30% of the total grant amount requested, with a minimum of half (15%) of the amount must represent a cash contribution (i.e., a total of $288,000 partner match required per grant with a minimum of $144,000 as a cash contribution per grant), for a total grant value of up to $1.248 million per grant over four (4) years.

[5]Funding is expected to be made available in Japan by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC) and/or the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT).

[6]Funding is expected to be made available in Canada by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Application date
Humanities : Linguistics, Philosophy, Theology and religion, Anthropology & Ethnology
Social sciences : Demography, Environmental Sciences, Gender studies, Identities, gender and sexuality, Geography, Law, Political science, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Sociology
Other : Computer science, Medicine