George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, recently visited Newcastle University, following a pledge of £20m of government funding for a new ageing science and innovation centre at the University.The National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation (NASI) will bring together academics, the NHS and public and private sector experts to create a world-leading research centre on the challenges and opportunities offered by an ageing population.
As well as cementing Newcastle’s position as a science hub, this centre will support 1,300 jobs across the city and provide a £22m boost to the region.
It will also have strong commercial applications in developing products and services aimed at supporting older people and meeting the needs of the older consumer. These could include technologies that can support people to age better, such as exercise and diet products and services, as well as more user-friendly designs of safety alarms and assisted living equipment to allow older people to live more independently.
On his visit, the Chancellor will meet University researchers, partners from the NHS and Newcastle City Council who work collectively as part of Newcastle’s ‘age-friendly city’ initiative. He will also see some of the technology being used by researchers including a visit to the biomarker laboratory which is identifying new ways of recognising those at risk of accelerated ageing. By giving researchers a much broader understanding of the biology of ageing, the lab is helping the Newcastle team to deliver the innovation needed to support healthy ageing.
The government’s £20m funding was announced by the Chancellor at last week’s Autumn Statement, as part of a programme of science capital investment worth £5.9 billion. This includes £2.9bn for scientific grand challenges, such as the £235m Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research and Innovation, and £3bn towards ensuring our existing infrastructure at universities and research institutes remains at the cutting edge. The Chancellor also provided an additional £61m for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, many of whose centres are in the north, and £28m for a new centre in Sedgefield, County Durham, specialising in Formulation.
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:
“I said I wanted science to be at the heart of delivering a Northern Powerhouse as part of this government’s long-term economic plan. That’s why I’ve earmarked £20 million to support Newcastle’s brilliant cutting-edge research, right here in the North East.
This research will not only help boost the regional and national economy, bringing jobs and investment, but will improve people’s lives by developing technologies to support our ageing population. It’s part of a £7 billion Northern Powerhouse investment in this year’s Autumn Statement.”
Newcastle University is also matching the Government’s pledge, bringing the total investment in NASI to £40m.
Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University, added: “Increased longevity has been one of mankind’s greatest successes with average life expectancy for a man now almost 80 years in the UK and for a woman 82. However, the challenge is how we enable people to live a healthier longer life, free from disability, and able to enjoy those extra years.
“For more than a decade, Newcastle University has been at the forefront of addressing this challenge. By building one of Europe’s largest research teams we have pioneered work in understanding why we age, tackling the diseases associated with ageing, and designing environments, technologies and public policy that supports healthy ageing.
"Together with our partner, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we have created a dedicated Campus for Ageing and Vitality to provide a focus for our work and have been successful in securing support from a range of funding partners over the years. This includes: the NIHR which has funded a Biomedical Research Centre, the MRC which has supported a Centre for Ageing & Vitality, and the Wellcome/Wolfson funded Clinical Ageing Research Unit.
“The Government’s support to establish a National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation will complement this investment and allow our researchers to work with other academic centres across the country to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the global drive to address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of an ageing population.”
published on: 11 December 2014