UKRI joins global competition seeking innovations to help us age well

UKRI, in collaboration with the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and seven other global organisations, today announced that it has joined the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar international competition seeking breakthrough innovations to improve physical, mental, and social well-being for people as they age.

Across the world, dramatic advances in medicine and public health have resulted in unprecedented extensions of the human lifespan over the past century. By 2050, people over age 65 will number over 1.6 billion, accounting for 20 percent of the global population – more than double the number today. Coupled with declining fertility rates, however, this demographic shift presents many challenges to economic and workforce stability, health care systems, and rural and urban communities, which may result in older people experiencing lower quality wellbeing during a longer lifespan.

However, if global societies embrace strategies to maximize healthy longevity, the ageing population presents a tremendous opportunity. Extending good health and productivity later in life would allow older people to remain active contributors to the economy, their communities, and families and reduce their overall need for social and health care services. Interdisciplinary research and innovation are urgently needed globally to generate important advances and breakthroughs that can help ageing global populations achieve healthy longevity.

The Healthy Longevity Global Competition is designed, founded, and coordinated internationally by the NAM. The global competition calls on teams and individuals of any background to submit bold, innovative ideas, with the goal of extending the human health span.

The competition consists of three phases internationally:

  • Catalyst Phase
    Approximately 450 awards worth $50,000 USD each will be issued globally as seed funding to advance new, innovative ideas (starting in 2020). Awardees will be invited to attend an annual Innovators Summit – the first of which is set for summer 2021 — to share their work with policymakers, researchers, potential investors, and fellow innovators from around the world.
  • Accelerator Phase
    Awards worth $300,000 to $1 million USD or more will be issued to those meritorious Catalyst awardees who have demonstrated significant progress, in order to support the further advancement of their bold ideas (starting in 2021).
  • Grand Prize
    One or more grand prize(s) of up to $5 million USD will be awarded for achievement of a breakthrough innovation that extends the human health span (starting in 2023).

UKRI will fund Awards in the Catalyst Phase and expects to make up to 60 Awards of the equivalent of $50,000 USD each to awardees based at UK research organisations across three cycles of funding between 2020 and 2022. Funding for UKRI’s Awards comes from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Healthy Ageing Challenge, with the aim of supporting early stage innovation and stimulating interest in global opportunities. Applications for the programme will be accepted from early 2020 through the UKRI funding scheme. 

Other organisations issuing Catalyst Awards include Academia Sinica of Taiwan, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, EIT Health (supported by EIT, a body of the European Union), Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore, U.S. National Academy of Medicine (supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation), and US National Institute on Aging.

Full details of the scope of the first call, eligibility and how to apply will be made available on the UKRI funding opportunities webpage in January 2020. For more information about the global challenge visit As part of the competition’s commitment to share knowledge and stimulate an entire field by not only rewarding innovative ideas but also sharing those ideas with the world, summaries of all awards will be available on this website starting in summer 2020.

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