Institute for Ageing

Case Studies

ADL Smartcare

Business opportunity

ADL Smartcare Limited is an SME that develops decision support systems principally for health and social care. Providing services to around two dozen health and social care providers in the UK. It is at the forefront of state-of-the-art tools drawing particularly on advanced scientific and engineering understanding to underpin its tools. The development of science and engineering-based tools has ensured its position as the market leader.

Most of the company’s efforts go into developing and maintaining its operational systems, however in partnership with key customers it continues to pursue new tools – many of which fall outside of its core skill base. In fact many future customer requirements present significant technical challenges.

Although the company is starting to build a research capability, this is at a very early stage. Drawing on expertise from the University is seen as a way of researching and developing new technologies at the fastest rate.


Initially the company started with a Collaborative Innovation Partnership (CIP) to explore a new technical possibility. This required a small investment well within the means of even the smallest company.

However the technical problems have proved harder than originally foreseen and this has led to the submission of a full Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with a particular group of experts who it’s believed will be able to resolve the technical challenges which need to be addressed for the next generation of tools.


ADL Smartcare’s market is targeted at helping older people remain independent, and assisting the support services to enable that. Health and Social Care budgets will inevitably come under increasing pressure to find new ways of working that cut costs and improve efficiency.

The company’s application of technology in this area has already led to savings of around £5 saved for every £1 spent, leading to very rapid expansion in a new and emerging market. Being the market leader in its field, it is crucial to the company’s continued rapid growth and leading position in the market, that it is able to access research capability as quickly as possible.

Collaboration with the University allows it to grow its market much more quickly (and cost-effectively) than if it had to develop all of the technologies in house.

Contact Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager, to discuss how we can help you to access University expertise.

East End Health

East End Health (EEH) (now known as Food Nation) is an acknowledged area leader in the fields of community food and nutrition initiatives in Newcastle upon Tyne, and a trusted and recognised provider of projects and services to many groups and communities in some of the most deprived areas of the city.

East End Health is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, with a clear and simple vision underpinning all of our work, namely:

  • to prevent diet related disease and obesity

Newcastle Work Experience (NWE) Job Opportunity

Our two latest NWE placements were:

  • Charity Links Fundraiser – to promote and raise awareness of the charity within the university community
  • Enterprise Development Worker – to research and develop food and nutrition enterprise initiatives in secondary schools and colleges

Why EEH needs assistance from Newcastle University?

To help us research, develop and deliver new projects. We often dream up new and exciting ideas of how we can develop our work and the support we receive from Newcastle University enables us to explore our ideas and put them into action.

Why East End Health chose NWE?

We want to work with intelligent, young and ambitious students who really want to contribute to our vision. NWE make it possible for us to work with young people who are as enthusiastic and passionate about our work as we are.

Newcastle University Careers Service team

Employing an NWE student is easy because the Careers Service team make it easy. They are professional, well organised and support you throughout the whole process. Most importantly, they make sure you get the right person for the job.

Benefits of NWE

Put simply, NWE has enabled East End Health to develop innovative new projects that contribute to the prevention of diet related disease in later life in some of the most deprived communities in the UK. NWE students are helping us achieve our vision.

The future

Later this year, East End Health will offer an NWE student the opportunity to help us develop our food and nutrition services to meet the needs of ageing communities in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Contact Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager, to discuss how we can help you to access University expertise.

Parnell Products

Business opportunity

In 2006, entrepreneur Phillip Parnell became aware of a need for a bed rail to assist the elderly and infirm to get in and out of bed and prevent them rolling out whilst asleep. He began to develop a product, compatible with electrical and conventional domestic beds, and designed to be easy to fit.

Phillip was very aware that the rail had to be safe in use and realised the rail would have to meet the load requirements of the most applicable British Standard, BS EN 1970.


The Resource Centre for Innovation and Design (RCID) was initially approached to carry out a thorough structural evaluation of the design and began by first understanding the complete specifications for the bed that the rail was designed to be used with. Hand calculations and Finite Element Analysis were then used to determine the stresses and deflections in the rail under the BS EN 1970 load scenarios. Finally, recommendations for improvements and minimum material grades were made and subsequently implemented.


The improvements to the design proposed by RCID enhanced the bed rail’s safety and ensured it was strong enough to meet the BS EN 1970 loadings. The RCID’s independent verification helped establish the credibility of the product in the marketplace and the overall development time was reduced.

Philip’s bed rail has proved to be a success in this growing marketplace, giving assistance to many vulnerable individuals. Recently, he has once again approached RCID for help with developing a more versatile bed rail design.

The RCID was extremely thorough and efficient in carrying out its structural analysis of our product. I personally was very impressed at the extent to which they exceeded expectations and can thoroughly and unreservedly recommend the RCID to any other business/manufacturer.
Phillip Parnell, Parnell Products

Contact Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager, to discuss how we can help you to access University expertise.


planmyfood is an online nutrition planner designed to deliver improved health and well-being for people with special dietary requirements.

The majority of nutrition planners are designed for slimmers, people with eating disorders and fitness enthusiasts, we can’t forget the fact that older people require guidance in their diet as their health changes.

The fastest growing age group is the oldest. In 2033 it is predicted that two in five people will be aged 50+ (ONS, based on 2008 statistics). planmyfood has taken the opportunity to use their online model with the older demographic but came across challenges which restricted its progress.

Combating the challenges

Without the nutritional skills to provide content and project management facilities to develop the programme, planmyfood experienced difficulty in creating a scientifically proven prototype, which was needed in order to launch as a commercial product.

Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business is an initiative funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The objective is for the university to engage with companies to help them grow their businesses in the emerging market created by an ageing society. By accessing the university research, knowledge, skills and facilities through changing age for business, companies will be able to deliver products and services more cost effectively.

planmyfood and the Business Engagement team have created a business model for the online nutrition planner.

Helen Sandford was appointed as the project manager to ensure that the project met its objectives.

planmyfood were provided with the skills and knowledge of an academic, Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health from Newcastle University who worked on the project with a dedicated research associate. Professor Moynihan and the associate researched and developed the types of information that older people needed to monitor and provided validated nutritional content to the website.

This project provided planmyfood with most valuable advice and guidance, as well as helping them broaden the vision of future product applications. I’ve learnt a lot, and the product/service vision has changed significantly as a result of your advice. We think we have a much better product as a result, and we look forward to a continuing close relationship between planmyfood and Newcastle University’s Changing Age for Business.
Paul Dayan, Managing Director, planmyfood


planmyfood have used the nutrition guidelines to advise the diets of both older people and those suffering from non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, and can advise you if you are eating outside the guidelines for your condition. planmyfood recognised that there is little dietary advice offered to these groups and the guidance that is available is often confusing and at times conflicting. The planmyfood tool can tell you if you are reaching your personal targets dependant on information you submit and offer tips and rationale for the advice it provides. The scientifically-based material written by Newcastle University’s nutrition professionals helps you choose the right foods and remain healthy.

planmyfood knows that nutritional information can be difficult to understand and confusing to some people, so the information is also displayed in friendly, meaningful pictures, such as the eat-well plate and the familiar traffic light labels.

The real opportunity in nutrition planning for people with health concerns is about how to help them manage successful outcomes. planmyfood shows you graphically how you are doing and predicts how you are likely to progress in the future. You can also save your recipes and favourite meals to use again. Additionally, for those people who are too ill to manage their own dietary needs– planmyfood is available for their carers and family members. You can also easily plan a meal for several people, serving each person according to his or her needs. planmyfood shows you the nutrition information and advice for each person.

We can all improve our health by eating well, but many people can really transform their health by careful dietary management. Diabetics, people with raised cholesterol or raised blood pressure, elderly people at risk of malnourishment and people recovering from eating disorders – these are just some of the people whose quality of life or life expectancy can be transformed by eating the right food.

Overall beneficiaries

Working together on this project, planmyfood has been able to understand and utilise the best practice nutrition guidelines for many medical conditions whilst Newcastle University has broadened its business contact base.

planmyfood will add real value for both users and healthcare professionals who are intent on improving the nutrition of elderly people. planmyfood adopts best practice guidelines, a task that has been supported by Changing Age for Business in relation to specific medical conditions. It’s been a great experience to work with such a prestigious organisation which shares our aim of improving the through-life health and wellbeing of people.
Charlie Wainwright, Business Development Director, planmyfood


Ultimately, Newcastle University has the tools and resources to assist many businesses such as planmyfood and aims to provide the region with as much assistance where possible with new or modified inclusive products and services to meet the wider variation of needs and aspirations in the older population.

Contact Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager, to discuss how we can help you to access University expertise.

Design Network North

The needs of the older population are often neglected during the design of products and services.

Design Network North recognised this and set up an exemplar project with Newcastle University focused on street furniture.

£1,000 of European Research & Development Fund (ERDF) funding was injected into the project and through Changing Age for Business, the design and manufacturing companies involved were able to participate in consultation with:

to enable the design to be tailored to the needs of the end users.

The contemporary design has a number of features that make it suitable for use by older people. It is a great example of user driven inclusive design and, as such, is well positioned to address this growing market.

I worked closely with the Institute and Voice North, and began holding consultation sessions with groups of older people who were interested in giving feedback to the project. It has been a rewarding and pleasurable experience. There is certainly a correlation between the amount of consultation and the success.
Jonathan Butters, Butters Innovation.

Contact Mike Morgan, Business Development Manager, to discuss how we can help you to access University expertise.