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ERA-AGE Extension

Final Report Summary - ERA-AGE 2 (ERA-AGE Extension)

Executive Summary:
The ERA-AGE 2 project is a continuation of the highly successful ERA-AGE project which started in 2004 and was the first project to focus on the Europeanisation of ageing research and ran from 2009 for 42 months. The ERA-AGE consortium is the only ERA-Net in the broad multidisciplinary ageing field. It arose from the Coordinating Action (CA) FORUM project under FP5 and, therefore accumulated a unique body of skills, knowledge and experience in coordinating ageing research. By carefully assembling the collaborative framework necessary to make a lasting impact on the European research area ERA-AGE went from strength to strength in achieving its original objectives and then surpassing them by launching a joint call between eight of the partners. ERA-AGE 2 has continued these high standards and has succeeded in: expanding its membership, providing networking opportunities between researchers, funders and policy makers; funding 15 new FLARE Fellows; holding three FLARE Summer Schools; and funding Europe’s first joint programme of ageing research. In short, it not only met but far exceeded its original objectives.

The expansion of ERA-AGE 2 brought seven Associate Partners to the consortium, bringing total membership up to 20, with partners from: Quebec (Canada); Canada; Saxony (Germany); Lithuania; Czech Republic; Lower Silesia (Poland); and Ireland.. Four networking Forums aimed at research funders, policy makers and scientists were staged, Brussels (2010 and 2012), Austria and Romania (both 2011), with a combined audience of over 400 people from across Europe.

The second round of the pioneering FLARE programme created 15 new Fellows early-career researchers undertaking multi-disciplinary ageing projects. In addition three Summer Schools were hosted over the life of the project; they brought together FLARE Fellows (past and present) and other post-docs from ERA-AGE partner countries (including Canada) in a four day schedule of lectures, discussion groups, networking and social events.

On 1st June 2011 ERA-AGE 2 launched Europe’s first joint research programme in the ageing field by publishing a call for multidisciplinary research applications on “Active and Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course. In total 35 applications were received and 6 applications received funding after a 2 stage peer review process. The call was dedicated to the achievement of enhanced and healthy ageing and, in particular, to address the major priority established by the EIPAHA of a 2 year increase in healthy life expectancy in the European Union by 2020. The quality of applications was so high that a number of funding agencies agreed to increase their budget to accommodate additional projects; in some cases new funders are financing partners in consortia where other sources are not available. Nine funders in seven countries have committed over €4 million to 20 different scientific institutions. The six funded projects reflect a diverse range of issues including continence, hearing, work and retirement, ambient assisted living technologies and environments of ageing.

Partners have continued to develop the ERA-AGE database with up-to-date information about research centres, funders (their programmes and projects) and researchers from across Europe. The project website was also upgraded to support the development of the database and will remain as a complete archive of project achievements.

ERA-AGE 2's diverse activities have supported collaboration between national agencies, a reduction in duplication and the development of infrastructure to nurture the next generation of ageing researchers and ensure Europe's excellence in this research area is maintained.

Project Context and Objectives:
The success of ERA-AGE 1 in achieving its first joint call meant the next logical step forward was to enlarge the consortium to a critical mass and use this to mount Europe’s first ageing research programme supported principally by the Member States, tentatively titled the “New European Dynamics of Ageing Programme (NEDA)”. The main aims of the extension of ERA-AGE were to develop and deliver one research funding programme (FLARE 2 – see below) ,to undertake an extensive networking and community building programme to engage with the various stakeholders in the ageing field to create the basis for a major programme, and to progressively extend the membership of ERA-AGE, starting with 3 new members: Bulgaria, Latvia and Spain. In addition there were continuing activities that required coordination, such as the FLARE postdoctoral research programme, the maintenance of existing ERA-AGE databases and the development of new ones. Thus the seven major objectives of ERA-AGE 2 were to:

• Develop and implement the framework for a second call for the FLARE postdoctoral programme (FLARE 2), based on the highly successful implementation of the first FLARE call. This includes a common specification, peer review arrangement, commissioning panel, procedures and documentation.

• Provide the continuing European framework for the existing FLARE programme by arranging networking opportunities for the post-doctoral fellows.

• Ensure that the key stakeholders regionally, nationally and European are engaged in the activities of ERA-AGE and, thereby, contributing to the research response to the ageing challenge. The priority stakeholders are from the societal and political arenas. ERA-AGE’s dissemination activities will be geared in these directions.

• Continue ERA-AGE essential knowledge transfer activities including further development of its databases aimed at providing evidence for policy, practice and product development in response to the ageing challenge.

• Engage the majority of European countries as ERA-AGE members following an explicit programme of engagement and clear eligibility criteria.

• Ensure a lasting basis for strategic collaboration between the ERA-AGE partners.

• Develop the framework for and agree an open memorandum of understanding concerning the NEDA programme to follow ERA-AGE 2, covering partner responsibilities, methods and levels of funding.

The central mission of ERA-AGE 1 (2004-2007) was to build the foundations for an ERA in the field of population ageing research and, thereby, to enable Europe to gain maximum added value from national investments in this field. It focused on the coordination of existing national research programmes and related activities and also sought to promote the development of new interdisciplinary programmes based on partnership between countries. Its remit covered only existing national research programmes on ageing at the management level and its key objectives were to share information and good practices in the management of ageing research programmes and to create the basis for a European research area in this field. A major step in this direction was accomplished in 2007 by the mounting of Europe’s first joint programme on ageing funded collaboratively by Member States. The Future Leaders of Ageing Research in Europe post-doctoral programme (FLARE 1) was a joint venture between eight countries, which responded directly to two of the key recommendations of the FORUM CA under FP5 for post-doctoral training opportunities in ageing research and for more expertise in multidisciplinary research. Thus FLARE post-doctoral fellows not only undergo inter-country mobility as part of their 3 year tenure but also cross-disciplinary training. The FLARE programme is making an important contribution to the European Research Area and serves as a model for other fields. ERA-AGE 1 not only accomplished what it promised to do but also delivered much more as well. Specifically it:
• Launched a pilot joint post-doctoral fellowship call (FLARE), the first of its kind in Europe.
• Created national agency research forums in 11 countries (based on the UK model).
• Hosted the first Summer School for FLARE fellows in Sweden.
• Created joint databases of European research centres, programmes and scientific peer reviewers.
• Generated a comprehensive schedule of key research priorities for future ageing research.
• Hosted 5 successful European Forum and Good Practice meetings, 4 scientific/expert workshops and produced 9 associated reports that comprise key research priorities/recommendations in the field of ageing (one Forum meeting will take place in early 2009 and a report will follow).
• Produced two good practice guides on research programme management and involving older users in research.
• Created a website plus 12 editions of the ERA-AGE newsletter
• Established partnerships among ERA-AGE members including a co-funding initiative between Finland and the UK.

ERA-AGE 2 aimed to build on these activities and develop the infrastructure for a joint research response to address Europe’s demographic change. Europe is the world’s oldest continent and its continued ageing affects every aspect of human life. How Europe responds to its own ageing will have a profound effect on both the economy and society: from economic production to family life. Europe’s ageing, and, in particular, ensuring that the adjustment is successful, is one of the grand challenges facing the continent over the next decade. Yet, in contrast to the USA which has had a National Institute of Ageing for over 30 years, Europe’s response is for the most part fragmented and uncoordinated. Framework Programmes 5 to 7 have made important contributions to this research endeavour but they have not sufficiently prioritised ageing, in line with its status as a grand European challenge, and they have not treated the topic in a holistic way. Therefore Europe needs ageing research coordination to:

• Bring together the research resources and expertise that exist in abundance at national level.
• Coordinate and prioritise some aspects of that national effort to avoid unnecessary duplication.
• Appropriately respond, at the European level, to the scale of the grand challenge facing the continent.
• Approach the multi-faceted nature of the ageing challenge from a multidisciplinary perspective.
• Embed a concerted comparative approach between European countries and regions.
• Share research findings and databases.
• Ensure that the results of relevant research in any country are spread across the continent.
• Maximise the impact of research on policy, practice and product development.
• Be able to compete and collaborate on equal terms with the USA in the coordination and exploitation of this vital research field.

Building on the strong partnership developed by the ERA-AGE and the successful FLARE post-doctoral programme, which emphasises both cross-discipline and cross-national expertise, ERA-AGE 2 aimed to create a concerted European approach to ageing research. To respond to the grand challenge facing the world’s oldest region it must address all of the key components of this ageing and command the widest possible national support.

Project Results:
The activities of ERA-AGE 2 were focused around a series of joint activities and joint calls, carefully structured to meet the objectives of the project:
• A new round of the FLARE programme
• FLARE Summer Schools
• A programme of networking events and dissemination
• Virtual centre activities
• Development of a joint programme
Each of these accomplishments is described below.

FLARE 2
One of the primary project aims was to develop and implement the framework for a second call for the FLARE postdoctoral programme (FLARE 2) based on the highly successful implementation of the first FLARE call. This included a common specification, peer review arrangement, commissioning panel, procedures and documentation. The documentation was developed through a series of Network Steering Committee and FLARE 2 sub-group meetings and supported by electronic discussion over a period of months. Initially the entire consortium worked together to review and revise documents, with the funding partners providing the primary feedback at a later stage. The call was launched in July 2010 supported by eight funders. Following a peer-review process culminating in a panel meeting in April 2011, 15 new Fellowships were awarded. The funded researchers and their projects are listed below.


FLARE 2 Fellows

Ana-Mara Buga
Host institution: University of Medicine and Pharmacy Craiova, Molecular Medicine Department, Craiova, Romania.
Project: Identification of axonal growth-relevant genes in the aged post-stroke brain

Anna Dahl
Host institution: Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Stockholm, Sweden.
Project: Weight trajectories and health in late life; a life course approach.

Henna Hasson
Host institution: Karolinska Institutet, Medical Management Centre (MMC), Stockholm, Sweden.
Project: Successful implementation of improvement programs in elderly care.

Marko Korhonen
Host institution: University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences, Gerontology Research Centre, Jyväskylä, Finland.
Project: Can regular exercise slow the aging processes in muscle and bone ? International collaborative study on lifetime athletes

Gitit Lavy Shahaf
Host institution: Bar Ilan University, Dept: The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Unit: The Computational Immunology Lab, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Project : Understanding B cell lineage population and repertoire changes in aging, and in people with AIDS.

Anja Leist
Host institution: University of Luxembourg, INSIDE, Walferdange, Luxembourg.
Project: Health in Old Age: A study on the interplay of Economic and Individual influences.

Fredrica Nyqvist
Host institution: National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Mental Health Promotion Unit, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Helsinki, Finland.
Project: Social Capital, Loneliness and Mental Well-Being in an Ageing Population: Social Inequalities

Nicolas Sirven
Host institution: Institute for Research and Information in Health Economics (IRDES), Paris, France.
Project: Frailty Research in Economics, Society, and Health (FRESH)

Ulrike Waginger
Host institution: University of Vienna, Working group for Social Gerontology, Life Course and Social Policy Research, Institute of Sociology, Vienna, Austria.
Project: Early Retirement and Well-being in Europe: A secondary analysis based on SHARE and ELSA


FLARE 2 Associate Fellows

The current FLARE 2 cohort includes six Associate FLARE 2 Fellows. Due to the number of high quality applications received during the FLARE 2010 call, the Academy of Finland has funded another five FLARE applicants under a standard Finnish scheme; a sixth Fellow chose to pursue their FLARE project in Sweden.

Petra Grönholm-Nyman
Host institution: Abo Akademi University, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Turku, Finland.
Project: Cognitive training in normal and aging and Mild Cognitive Impairment.

Kathrin Komp
Host institution: Umeå University, Department of Sociology, Umeå, Sweden
Project: The moral economy of the third age. Why governments encouraging productivity in old age are unpopular.

Jenni Kulmala
Host institution: University of Jyväskylä, Gerontology Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland.
Project: Are psychosocial symptoms and self-rated health early and shared risk factors for physical disability and cognitive decline in old age? (PSCog)

Ulpukka Isophkala-Bouret
Host institution: University of Helsinki, Institute of behavourial Sciences, Helsinki, Finland.
Project: What is the matter with ageing and expertise? Narrative inquiry into the experiences of older workers who acquire Master's degrees in their fifties.

Mirka Rauniomaa
Host institution: University of Oulu, Faculty of Humanities, Oulu, Finland.
Project: Back behind the wheel: Social interactional Perspectives on Older drives and driver education.

Monika von Bonsdorff
Host institution: University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland.
Project: Dynamic retirement - Prospective analysis on early and midlife individual and work-related predictors.

SUMMER SCHOOLS
ERA-AGE 2 also provided the continuing European framework for the FLARE programme by arranging networking opportunities for the post-doctoral fellows. Three Summer Schools were hosted over the life of the project; they brought together FLARE Fellows (past and present) and other post-docs from ERA-AGE partner countries (including Canada) in a four day schedule of lectures, discussion groups, networking and social events.


Summer School 1

The first FLARE Summer School took place in Bulgaria in September 2010, and attracted 33 participants from a wide mix of nationalities and research interests. This Summer School was held to reunite the original FLARE Fellows and to provide an event where current FLARE Fellows, potential FLARE Fellows and early career researchers could get together and network. The aims were also to strengthen the network and community feeling among the post docs, to share their work and to extend the Summer School network in order to promote multidisciplinary interests and to focus on career planning and development.

Co-hosted by the Institute of Population and Human Research, part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the researchers gathered at a hotel in Varna, on the Black Sea coast between 27th and 30th September 2010. Leading European experts were invited, covering fields such as demography, social gerontology and multidisciplinary research and the programme also paid attention to career planning and European research funding strategies.

The broad themes uniting the keynotes and lectures was the future of ageing research, European research priorities, ageing in Bulgaria and the challenges facing the New Member States, Eastern European researchers and east/west collaboration generally. During the two and a half days the attendees were challenged to discuss, debate, collaborate and build relationships to address these themes, as well as being asked to engage in some speculation to answer the question: “The dream: what would be the ideal scenario for European Researchers and how to make it happen?”


Summer School 2

The second FLARE Summer School took place in the beautiful and sunny surroundings of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. All attendees gathered for the week in a historic building now home to RCU Marie Cristina. It originally housed the workshops and servants’ residences for the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

In total 32 post-docs and nine speakers from 14 different countries in Europe and North America gathered on Monday 5th September 2011 for the next three days, comprising FLARE 1 Fellows, FLARE 2 Fellows, FLARE 2 Associate Fellows and post-docs from other countries nominated by members of the European Research Area of Ageing.

The focus of the Summer School was "Navigating career transitions". The ageing research landscape is changing. Budget cuts and a focus on applied research are changing the nature of research funding, with increased focus on user engagement, impact, and implementation. The Summer School brought together a wide range of post-doctoral researchers, from those immediately post-doc to those almost 10 years post-doc and aims to share expertise and experience to support the activities and ambitions of early career researchers in ageing.

The programme included a mix of themed and scientific presentations, with discussion groups focused on a wide range of questions. FLARE Fellows were also challenged to contribute to the programme: three of the FLARE 1 cohort each gave summaries of their fellowships, reviewing their research findings and providing advice for the new Fellows on maximising the opportunities of Fellowships, especially in the mobility period and two attendees presented insights on the challenges of a career in ageing research at different career stages– six years post-doc and immediately post-doc.

In addition to the long hot days of speakers and discussion groups the social calendar included a tour of the Monastery of El Escorial, which in 1984 was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. From its situation on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama it also afforded a chance to watch the sunset illuminate the towers of Madrid, some 30 miles to the south-east. In addition an after-dinner talk by Prof Maria Angeles Duran (Council for Research of Spain) gave a thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated perspective on “Cultural Views on Ageing” which ranged over diverse issues of historical and current perceptions of death, beauty and expected behaviour norms of ageing populations.

The Summer School was hosted with the generous support of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, MICINN. ERA-AGE 2 would like to thank the MICINN and its staff for their sponsorship and practical support of this event.


Summer School 3

The third and final Summer School was held in Galway in Ireland in 2012, on the Atlantic west coast of Ireland. All attendees gathered at the National University of Ireland, Galway, about a mile from the centre of Galway City.

In total 37 post-docs and speakers from 12 different countries in Europe gathered on Monday 6th August 2012. The programme included a varied mix of themed and scientific presentations with discussion groups focused on a wide range of questions. For this Summer School rather than develop the programme around a particular theme FLARE Fellows were asked to nominate speakers themselves. In addition all FLARE 2 Fellows gave updates on their research – a particularly well favoured part of the programme – and the unique cross-border challenges of Irish ageing was well represented. Attendees were taken out into central Galway to enjoy some of the best of local cuisine – although the food at the venue was also excellent - and the following night undertook an impromptu field trip to the nearby beach in Salthill.

The Summer School was supported by the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG) and the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) and ERA-AGE 2 would like to thank the staff of both organisations for their time and expertise.



NETWORKING AND DISSEMINATION
ERA-AGE has worked to ensure that the key stakeholders regionally, nationally and European are engaged in the activities of ERA-AGE and, thereby, contributing to the research response to the ageing challenge. The priority stakeholders are from the societal and political arenas. ERA-AGE’s dissemination activities were also geared in these directions.

In total four networking Forums took place, aimed at research funders, policy makers and scientists, with a combined audience of at least 400 people. The Forums were a continuation of the established “European Forum on Ageing Research” which started as part of the FP5 FORUM project; the typical format includes a mix of plenary presentations, break out discussion groups on key themes and panel discussions.

The first event took place in Brussels in May 2010 and was combined with a consultation on the FUTURAGE project. It was co-hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels, attracted 150 people and was webcast online. The second Forum took place in Vienna, Austria in March 2011 with the theme “The role of technology in achieving extended life years”. The 65 participants were drawn from 18 countries at an event hosted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The third Forum took place in Bucharest, Romania in November 2011 and was the first ERA-AGE Forum targeted toward the requirements of the New Member States. The programme was developed in close collaboration with ERA-AGE partners in the New Member States to ensure activities were of the highest possible value to the 70 people attending. The final Forum was the final ERA-AGE conference, titled “ERA-AGE: from 2004 to 2020”. It took place in Brussels in September 2012 to mark the completion of both the project and the successful joint call for ageing research applications. Summaries of each Forum meeting are below.



Summary of the seventh ERA-AGE Forum, Brussels, Belgium – 11 May 2010

The seventh Forum meeting hosted the FUTURAGE project, in which ERA-AGE partners were participating and played a foundation role. Its aims were: to present the results from the first round of FUTURAGE workshops; to gather feedback about the key priorities in ageing research; to examine the importance of ageing research for Europe’s future; to provide a strategic overview of the current state of play and the future requirements for European ageing research. Over 150 representatives from the European Parliament, European Commission, Member State government ministries, national research funders, academia, government research organisations, companies, and various non-governmental research organisations gathered to attend this event. The demanding schedule was split into two halves: in the morning participants reviewed detailed information on the research priorities generated by the first round of national consultations and scientific priority setting workshops, and; in the afternoon presentations sketched a strategic overview of the current state of play, and the future requirements for European ageing research. Speaker summaries from the day follow

FUTURAGE theme: Biogerontology
Dr Efstathios S. Gonos, Director of Research at the National Hellenic Research Foundation and Executive Committee Member of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Dr Gonos represented the biogerontology theme and introduced three future research directions: to continue research investment in this area; to retain financial support for successful and incomplete projects, and; to invest in novel global technologies. Using a projection of the size of the 65+ population in Europe in 2030 the presentation emphasised that ageing will become the most important social issue, partly due to the number of diseases, such as cancer, for which ageing is a major risk factor. The limitations of FP funding and the subsequent lack of continuity were highlighted with the description of two projects which have generated large biobanks and research material which, once funding has ended, are no longer accessible for analysis and research. Dr Gonos highlighted two major achievements in biogerontology - the discovery of telomeres, and the impact of the accumulation of cellular damage - and described the development of “omics”, techniques for the study of gene expression processes, which can provide information about the diet that can modulate these processes. He also observed that the model systems used in biological research do not take account of the differences between animals and humans; animals are bound to the process of “eat, survive, reproduction”, but humans have the ability to ask questions outside of these drivers; it was proposed that due to the complexity of human needs, ageing cannot be answered through biology alone and a multi-disciplinary approach is required. Dr Gonos concluded that the main aim of ageing research is to add life to years not years to life, so as more and more people reach 90 they have the quality of life that they had at 40.

FUTURAGE theme: Social and Economic Resources
Dr Giovanni Lamura, Italian National Research Institute on Ageing
Dr Lamura examined the role played by social and economic resources in an ageing society and the research priorities in this area. The presentation began with a review of the conceptual approach of the recent workshop for FUTURAGE, which gathered research priorities from scientists across Europe in four areas: older age and caregiving; older age and frailty; active ageing and; socio-economic needs in older age. The importance of older people as caregivers was highlighted by the fact that over a quarter of those providing care for older people are themselves aged over 65, and this is under-recognised and under-supported. Where older people are recipients of care, greater research is needed on perceptions of dependency and independence. Dr Lamura highlighted the large differences in types, levels, and quality of care across Europe, and the corresponding varying level of government expenditure in this area. Active ageing depends on the presence of a number of pre-requisites to enable people to maintain activity levels in the labour market, education and voluntary sector. The workshops also identified four socio-economic needs of older people: social; economic; cultural, and; vulnerability. The last item – vulnerability – is of particular importance due to the high levels mistreatment of the elderly which are believed to be particularly high in Southern and Eastern Europe.

FUTURAGE theme: Environments of Ageing
Professor Hans-Werner Wahl, Heidelberg University in Germany
Prof Wahl introduced the core research elements for the Environments of Ageing theme. He began by reviewing the key issues for ageing in Europe: how and where to live in old age; how to keep up with daily activities and social participation, especially with increased needs for support and care; rapid population ageing, most of all among the very old; the significant burden on public economy; mobility, and; technology solutions. The presentation outlined what can already be done to address these issues in Europe, and then identified where additional research needs to be focused, particularly in relation to evidence on outcomes and efficient solutions and implementation of existing evidence into practice contexts. Prof Wahl concluded with an overview of the first FUTURAGE workshop to identify research priorities in this area and will inform future development in this area. The work included a review of the existing evidence base and recognition of gaps, before identifying research areas and cross-cutting themes for future development. Specific ageing and environmental research needs to consider home settings, mobility/transport environments, the role of technology and work environments, and should be complemented by consideration of the bigger perspective, such as how climate change will affect older people.

FUTURAGE theme: Healthy Ageing
Professor Carol Jagger, AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom
Prof Jagger discussed what is meant by healthy ageing for Europe’s population, and identified the key research priorities and cross-cutting themes in this area. The presentation began by reviewing how the European population will age and the substantial inequalities in healthy life expectancy across Europe, and what effect this will have on the continent for the future. The presentation provided an overview of the first workshop to gather research priorities for this area which identified four key research areas. There is a need to agree what “healthy ageing” is and how to measure and monitor it and related concepts such as frailty, quality of life and wellbeing. Effective definitions are complicated when used for the oldest old – those over 85 – who typically rate their quality of life as “good” despite suffering from an average of four diseases each. Prof Jagger also highlighted the potential for the concept of healthy ageing to integrate biological, social, psychological and economic aspects of ageing. It was also observed that Europe provides a unique opportunity to conduct research as it contains countries at many different levels of demographic profile and development; this variation in development is also reflected in the variations in capacity, knowledge and infrastructure in countries that have little experience in ageing research. The conclusion pointed out that research is needed to capitalise on rapid social changes as they occur; the population is living longer and the challenge is to find out how people can live longer more successfully.

FUTURAGE theme: The User Perspective
Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK
Prof Goodwin began his presentation by outlining the challenging task to align the needs of users with the research agenda across Europe’s 27 countries, a diverse user community and multiple scientific disciplines. With the aim of creating one single model to bring those aspects together and serve the population’s democratic right to be involved Prof Goodwin challenged everyone present to reflect on their own work and ask: “What are the potential benefits to users?”; “How can we bring the benefit to users?” The presentation described the increase in longevity and the resultant increase in chronic disease, disability and ill health. The research solution to these challenges requires integration of investment, strategy and users, and to address an interactive model between users and researchers was proposed, designed to stimulate knowledge transfer. Key issues that arose from the first set of FUTURAGE workshops included: enabling and empowering older people to become involved in research; developing the business case for businesses to invest in users; mainstreaming ageing by making products and services “age friendly” so they are not specifically designed for just older people (this is a clear reflection of the life course approach).

Keynote: The New Science of Ageing
Professor Kaare Christensen, Head of Epidemiology at the Institute of Public Health and Director of the Danish Aging Research Center, University of Southern Denmark
The first of the keynote speakers examined how the complex questions of ageing are being addressed through collaboration between different disciplines and how this approach can enable the elderly to live longer in better health. The presentation outlined how life expectancy has increased dramatically in the last 400 years, with the most significant increase occurring during the 20th century, when life expectancy increased from 50 years to 80 years. Combined with a fall in mortality rates, if the trend continues half of children currently entering kindergarten will reach the age of 100. Although this is acknowledged to be fundamentally a good thing, there is concern about the implications of “the fourth age” that results from exceptional longevity. The presentation asked if this could result in an “artificial” old age due to medical intervention; does exceptional longevity mean exceptional disability? Prof Christensen provided examples of some multi-disciplinary research already taking place that is exploring these issues. He also highlighted the large discrepancy between male and female life expectancy with the female half of the global population outliving men by up to 12 years due to a combination of biology, behaviour and culture.

Keynote: Ageing research in the Research Framework Programmes
Dr Pēteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit, Health Directorate Infectious Diseases and Public Health Research, DG RTD
The second keynote speaker reviewed the role of the Framework Programme in supporting ageing research in Europe. Dr Zilgalvis outlined the strategic importance of research to the EU, as outlined in the Lisbon Treaty and the broad objective of Health research under FP7. A short history of FP funding for ageing research was presented. Under FP7 funding €6billion has been allocated to Health to support cross-cutting issues and three specific pillars: biotechnology, generic tools and technologies; translating research for human health; optimising the delivery of health care to citizens. A wide range of ageing related research has been funded, including immune reactivity in old age; participation of elderly in clinical trials; organisation of dementia care, and; patient safety. Dr Zilgalvis provided an insight in the development of work programmes and factors influencing priority areas. The presentation then provided an overview of the Joint Programming pilot initiative for combating neurodegenerative diseases which represents the first stage in an initiative focused on developing common strategic research agenda to major societal challenges.

Room for research on a new integrated care system for aged people
Dr Inês Guerreiro, National Coordinator of the National Network Integrated Continuous Care at the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity, Portugal
Dr Guerreiro showcased a project from Portugal which shows how integrated care
systems can adapt in response to social and structural changes, and patterns and prevalence of ill-health and disability. Dr Guerreiro outlined the structure and scope of the National Network for Integrated Continuous Care. The project is a partnership between the public, private and third sector, to support development of new working methods and the provision of cost effective services in long term care, and to address quality and sustainability standards, as well as coordinate informal and formal care. The presentation outlined the “bio psycho social” tool developed to enable holistic and longitudinal monitoring of patients; each patient is scored on 12 parameters to create both combined and specific scores, which can be used to measure for example: physical autonomy; incidence of pressure ulcers; cognitive and emotional status, and; incidence of falls. Dr Guerreiro concluded by observing that long term care is an increasingly important issue in Europe due to the widely different approaches in member states caused by differences in the split between formal/informal care, public/private funding, home care and residential care provision.



Summary of the eighth ERA-AGE Forum, Vienna, Austria - 1 March 2011

The eighth ERA-AGE FORUM, a meeting of the “European Forum on Population Ageing Research” took place at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Over 58 people from 18 countries gathered for this event which had the theme “The role of technology in achieving extended life years”. The Forum focused on a critical ‘topic’ in ageing research and practice, technology. Over the one-day event a morning of presentations was followed by a series of discussion groups during the afternoon. The discussion group topics drew on a wide range of experiences and expertise to address three divergent topics: achievements and ambitions for use of technology among older people; how to focus multi-disciplinary collaboration in this field; the role of EU initiatives in ageing-related technologies. The summaries from the discussion groups and brife information about the presentations are below.

ERA-AGE 2: aims and update
Prof. Alan Walker, University of Sheffield, Coordinator ERA-AGE2
The European Research Area in Ageing has been at the heart of coordination of ageing research in Europe since 2004, the culmination of ten years’ activity in this area. While many milestones have been reached in the Europeanisation of ageing research, many ambitions have still to be realised. The European Forum on Population Ageing Research, and currently ERA-AGE have made some significant achievements in this area and the next step for ERA-AGE is the proposed launch of Europe’s first joint programme of ageing research.

European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) – first pilot test on ‘Active and Healthy Ageing’
Mr. Loris Di Pietrantonio, DG INFSO, European Commission
Encouraging initiatives demonstrate innovating services by more and better use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can support active and healthy ageing in healthcare. The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing will be aimed at connecting initiatives, bridging gaps between projects and uptake, creating the right framework conditions and supporting stakeholders at all levels to engage into innovative endeavours in this area.

Ambient Assisted Living – an update
Dr. Gerda Geyer, FFG, Austria
The overall objective of the AAL Joint Programme is to enhance the quality of life of older people and strengthen the industrial base in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The next round of funding is focused on “ICT-based Solutions for Advancement of Older Persons’ Mobility” and will target orientation & navigation and assistive technologies; organisations in 23 countries are eligible for funding through the scheme.

BRAID: Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development
Dr. Benjamin Knapp, Queens University Belfast, United Kingdom
BRAID is developing a comprehensive Research and Technological Development (RTD) roadmap for active ageing by consolidating four existing roadmaps and by describing and launching a stakeholder co-ordination and consultation mechanism. A taxonomy of the field as well as a trend analysis has been recently completed. The project is in the process of characterising key research challenges and has just completed a first draft of a multi-faceted vision for a comprehensive approach in supporting the well-being and socio-economic integration of increasing numbers of senior citizens in Europe.

Technology and therapy control for geriatric patients
Prof. Monika Lechleitner, Medical Director, Federal Hospital Hochzirl, Austria
Recent developments in technology might offer tools for improved diagnostic procedures and control of therapy with respect to adherence to medication, efficacy and safety. Technical systems seem to be of advantage to help especially the elderly to live independently, especially in the management of chronic conditions. Telemonitoring may be an effective strategy for disease management in high-risk heart failure patients and for blood pressure values. Technology has already been proven helpful in the care of diabetes and in order to reduce the risk of side-effects and drug-interaction (e-medication).

Innovation and the new demography
Joan Cornet Prat , Executive chairman at Fundació TICsalut, Spain
Information and communication technology is having a big impact on the way we deliver health services and social care. At the same time technological innovation has become a key issue in providing new tools and new processes. Innovation in technology is not in itself an aim, and is useless if is not rightly inserted in a process of change management. To achieve a real implantation of innovating technology, it is important to put the right questions in order to find out the right answers.

Achieving and sustaining digital inclusion of older people : some key challenges
Prof. Leela Damodaran, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
Experience from the Sus-IT research project illustrates the learning journey experienced by older people acquiring skills in using information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the many threats to sustaining this capability. The focus is on developing better understanding of digital engagement of older people and to identify empowering sociotechnical solutions.

New technologies emerging from biogerontology research – what is utopia, what is reality?
Dr. Günter Lepperdinger , Institute for Biomedical Aging Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
Some biogerontologists push beyond investigation of how and why we age on the molecular, organismic and evolutionary level to seek ways to “slow down” and even reverse the ageing process. Despite the ubiquitous emergence of fallacious products, together with the fact that there is still much unknown about the specific mechanisms driving ageing in a human being future scientific discoveries could very well lead to effectual interventions. There are many scientists and investors seeking practical means for achieving substantial advancement to realise “successful ageing” and they may certainly accelerate high-flying implementations. Indeed far-reaching developments in stem cell research and regenerative medicine, profound insights in immunology and vaccination have been achieved by now.

Summary from break out group 1: What have we achieved with new technologies for the elderly – what is still missing?
The group were first asked to contemplate what new technologies have achieved for the elderly so far and identified before considering what technologies for the elderly were missing from existing projects and plans. Smart homes, social networking, large bandwidth (for personal computing as well as telemedicine) and falling costs of technology were identified as current achievements, although it was acknowledged not all of these are exploited to their full potential. Implementation gaps (including in smart homes), lack of measurement and assessment metrics to evaluate interventions, standardisation, unequal access (with profound differences both in and between different countries) and the difficulties in cross-border projects between national health systems were identified as future targets to utilise technology for the older population. The group finished by making the following recommendations to help address the gaps and meet the challenges for the future: raising awareness of solutions and benefits across all aspects of society; make better use of living labs; create compatible European platforms to work across systems and countries, and the development of a platform for evidence creation on the benefits and business models of technology.

Summary from break out group 2: What forms of multi-disciplinary collaboration will maximise the development of new technologies in this field?
The discussion began with an expansion of the problem posed in the question, which was agreed to refer to how technology can be used to support active and healthy ageing, with a clear emphasis on the principle of adding “life to years” and not “years to life”. The starting point used the example of fall prevention for a multi-disciplinary working method, and discussed the range of expertise needed to design and build a house designed to minimise falls. A number of problems were identified with this approach: the lack of strategic direction (who decides whether the psychologist’s or architect’s perspective is the most important); the subsequent implementation issues; and the lack of engagement with end users, especially the elderly themselves. It was also pointed out that this was an isolated approach that does not engage health and social care systems, which are particularly important post-fall. Two reasons were identified for lack of multi-disciplinary collaboration: scientists and policy makers are always limited in their expertise; and actors often incorrectly identify when collaboration should be sought and shared. To overcome the compartmentalisation in both the academy and public services best practice/ exemplary models should be collected and made available to enable effective evidence-based lobbying.

Summary from break out group 3: How much have EU-funded initiatives helped so far - what is still needed?
The group took a very positive view of EU funded initiatives - Age Platform Europe, Value+, epSOS, CALLIOPE, the eHealth Governance Initiative, CPME, UEMS were a few that the group could name when called on. Although these are excellent examples of cooperation there is still a lot of work to do. Focus on end user involvement is a critical point, but sometimes problematic due to the heterogeneity of the end user population. This could be overcome by: a database of potential end users and user organisations; better integration into the project; development of trust in technology to lower anxiety, supported by a reference group/person; choice of the right language to communicate. Effective dissemination of project results would help support end user engagement but projects need to be prolonged to enable this to happen; skills also need to be increased in this area. Implementation of results could be improved through better planning and evaluation; innovation and research outcomes should be clearly connected to the market. Finally it was deemed essential to contribute to the consultation to the FP7 successor to influence ideas on integration of end users and dissemination and implementation of project results.



Summary of the Ninth ERA-AGE Forum, Bucharest, Romania – 28 November 2011

The first ERA-AGE Forum targeted toward the requirements of the New Member States (NMS) took place in Bucharest hosted by UEFISCDI, the Romanian Executive Agency for Higher Education and Research Funding. The programme was developed in close collaboration with ERA-AGE partners in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania to ensure activities were of the highest possible value to those attending. The day opened with a series of presentations from a European perspective. Following discussion groups on good practice in ageing policy, three ERA-AGE partners - France, Luxembourg and Latvia - presented an overview of their strategy to build capacity in ageing research. The second discussion groups reviewed priorities in ageing research for the NMS. Summaries from the presentations and discussion groups are shown on the next few pages.

European collaboration in ageing research: ERA-AGE 2 and FUTURAGE
Alan Walker, University of Sheffield, UK
Professor Walker reviewed two major European initiatives in ageing research: ERA-AGE, and FUTURAGE A Road Map for Ageing Research. He highlighted the accomplishments of ERA-AGE, including the joint calls, and noted that the FUTURAGE Road Map was launched in October 2011 with the core priority of Active Ageing Across the Life Course.

Ageing and Ageing Policy in the New Member States
Asghar Zaidi, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Austria
Dr Zaidi reflected on the issues related to “Ensuring adequate pensions and social benefits for all European citizens”, The NMS in Central and Eastern Europe face the same challenges of many other European countries: rising numbers of older people who bring both opportunity and also increased age-related expenditure; the economic crisis, followed by jobs and public debt crisis. The situation is compounded by the greater risks of poverty among older people in the NMS. Pension reforms have already occurred in many countries, targeting both sustainability and adequacy of pensions, but a number of policy challenges remain: the full social impact of fiscal policy, especially stimulus/austerity measures, is not fully understood; promotion of active ageing policies in the labour market; and changes to pensions themselves.

EHLEIS – European Health and Life Expectancy Information System
Jean-Marie Robine, INSERM, France
Dr Robine presented the Joint Action European Health and Life Expectancy Information System (JC EHLEIS) or more simply “Joint Action on Healthy Life Years”. The European Commission has selected Healthy Life Years (HLY) as one of the EU Structural Indicators in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy (2001-2010). HLY aims to assess whether the additional years of life expectancy are lived in good or bad health. EHLEIS is co-funded by DG SANCO and 10 Member States to monitor European initiatives promoting healthy active longevity throughout Europe and to conduct in-depth research on healthy life years.

Discussion Groups: Sharing Good Practice in Ageing Policy

Group 1: Perspectives of older people
This group examined how best to reflect the perspectives of older people in practice with a particular focus on social care and prevention of acute and continuing conditions. One of the first observations was that there is often fragmentation between health and social care which can make this a very difficult task. The broad expectations of care are strongly affected by traditional views which often vary widely between and within countries (especially between urban and rural areas). Key issues were identified as: the balance between formal and informal care, the latter driven by high costs of formal care or personal preference; the need for services to collaborate with existing organisations delivering within local communities; and encouraging voluntary workers to provide help direct to older people. It was also emphasised that older people’s views should be directly solicited to determine their requirements and services developed in response to this.

Group 2: Inequalities Among Older People
A number of countries represented in this group had undertaken research into inequalities and determined that age-related inequalities are often exacerbated, or sometimes caused, through inequalities in health and social systems. Health services and pensions were common pivots for inequality. Israel was provided as a good example of how this could be tackled; at policy level there are different “categories” of population reflecting differing needs across age groups in urban and rural areas. It was acknowledged that discrimination in the labour market is big issue, although not much information exists on it and it remains under-researched in NMS. Migration, and the impact of it, was identified as a key source of inequality specific to NMS and an issue common to all countries was the role of the media in promoting inequality through their portrayal of older people

Group 3: Productive Horizontal Collaboration - developing an effective network of ageing researchers
The group began by noting that there is not much identifiable horizontal cooperation in the NMS, but there are active research groups with an increasing level of activity in Framework Programme activities. National policy levers need consideration before the development of, or participation in, horizontal actions; if it is not a priority nationally, there is unlikely to be wide support. A good starting point would be to exploit scientific results from other Framework Programme projects; in support of this it is important to disseminate results at national and European level. Interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity are essential for ageing research and this should be reflected in horizontal collaborations. There was also support for a virtual European Institute of Ageing, as a number of locations do not have a national centre.

Panel Discussion: Building Capacity in Ageing Research

Latvia: Latvian Council of Science
Uldis Berkis
The Latvian Science Council (LSC) is the governmental institution under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Science which deals with science and research within the country as well as international cooperation issues. The mission of the LSC is enabling research in the basic and applied sciences, especially in interdisciplinary research; consulting the Government on research policy issues and active participation in establishing Latvian science policy; care about publishing of scientific literature and promotion of international contacts of Latvian scientists. LSC is the main expert and financing organization for science and research providing evaluation and funding the basic and applied research projects. Research is focused around 5 expert commissions: Natural sciences and mathematics; Engineering and computer sciences; biology and medicine; agriculture, environment, earth sciences and forestry; humanities and social sciences

CNAV, France
Michel Tuchman
CNAV is a national public body in charge of the general pension scheme which manages the basic pension. Through its Research department (Direction des Recherches sur le Vieillissement - DRV) it has adopted a strategically planned approach to ageing research (social sciences), running four main national research programmes in this field : 'Relations Between Generations', 'Old Age and Dependency', 'Ageing and Migration' and 'Technology and Ageing'. DRV is one of the very few research teams dedicated only to research on ageing. The current DRV budget - €355,000 in 2003 - covers additional expenses for studies and survey programmes. Some of these programmes initiated and launched by the DRV are developed in cooperation with other public and private institutions and CNAV co-operates with other French or international researchers or research teams and sometimes funds research carried on by other teams. Publishing and organising scientific meetings on the ongoing research, are part of the DRV research activities, including Retraite et Société (Retirement and Society) the only specialised, interdisciplinary and scientific journal devoted to retirement and ageing.

FNR, Luxembourg
Norman Fisch
The National Research Fund (FNR) in Luxembourg has operated since 1999 as an independent institution with funding by the Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research. The FNR participates in the planning of national science and technology policy with the Ministry of Culture, Higher Education and Research and with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The FNR finances research activities in public institutions. One of the basic activities of the FNR consists in the planning and implementation of multi-annual research programmes in Luxembourg. Concerning ageing research, the FNR has no exclusive funding instrument, but its general schemes are open to research on ageing: one is the multiannual CORE programme (its strands on social sciences and biomedical as well as health research) and the other is the AFR PhD and postdoc grant scheme open to early stage researchers without thematic limitations. Under the AFR scheme, there are two annual calls for each PhD and postdoc grants, one in spring and one in autumn. The annual budget for all calls is around 20 million EUR, of which approx. two thirds are allocated to PhD and one third to postdoc proposals.


Discussion Groups: Priorities for Ageing Research in the New Member States

Group 4: Are new social gerontological theories needed for NMS: To consider this question the group considered two key issues affecting the older population in the EU: retirement policy and migration. On retirement it was noted that there are wide differences in both healthy life expectancy (HLE) and life expectancy. If you benefit from long HLE then you can work longer, or have an active life as a retired person but in countries with a low life expectancy (for example in Lithuania it is 67), it is quite difficult to work longer. Migration patterns are often determined by age and vary between countries – wealthier people may retire to sunny Mediterranean climes while younger people in NMS seek work in the north and west - with consequences accruing differently to various age groups too. The economic crisis has exacerbated this and the consequent impact on social welfare. It is clear there is no homogenousness and the the NMS are not like the other MS. However the group concluded that specific social gerontological theories for different groups of MS were not needed; the needs and goal are the same but the means and path are different.

Group 5: Determining cost effectiveness: cost calculation models in community and stationery services: The aim of this group was to consider the development of a model/method to estimate the community and stationary costs of self-governmental services for older people (caring, inclusive), taking into account also non-economic considerations. The primary responsibility for providing the broad care services for older people with limited autonomy belongs to local governments and local municipalities. It increasingly must involve public authorities in the process of providing services to the older people who are unable to meet their own needs. Therefore, governments should develop tools for estimating the performance and cost of various services, providing enough information for a fully informed choice to be made. In Poland for example, it is currently considered that in terms of economic, organisational and social services community services are a favourable choice (rather than stationary services). However developing local models of cost and comparison requires investment into: quantitative research on standards (among recipients, their families and service funders, commissioners); analysis of recent trends and developments; a multidisciplinary review panel (demographers, economists, geriatricians, gerontologists, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers).

Group 6: New approaches for active ageing in the NMS; how does this differ from other member states?: Group participants came from different corners of the EU, and initially examined active ageing at the community level in their countries. It was not easy to identify examples, but those they did pinpoint were characterised by localisation – all were headed by community groups or local governments. It was clear there is no comprehensive approach to active ageing initiatives and the group concluded that existing efforts are out of sync; the research community learn about wellbeing but the information and knowledge is not going far enough, and not effectively reaching governments or communities. The major task is to come up with an idea to make grassroots efforts more vital and targeted at very specific needs and communities (eg such as to treat Parkinsons’ Disease). Some efforts have been made in other parts of the EU, these approaches have not reached the NMS and there is still a lot of work to do to build on existing successful models.


Tenth ERA-AGE Forum

The final Forum was the final ERA-AGE conference, titled “ERA-AGE: from 2004 to 2020”. It took place in Brussels in September 2012 to mark the completion of both the project and the successful joint call for ageing research applications. This major European conference was dedicated to the achievements and future ambitions of the European Research Area in Ageing, including three joint calls. The conference reviewed the work of ERA-AGE, highlighted projects funded by the joint calls and outlined the future plans of the consortium.


Dissemination

The project website provided the key dissemination point information during the life of the project. News, reports and promotional material were all available to any visitor and visits to the website have been generally steady at between 1100-1300 per month, with small peaks of interest related to specific events. Just over 70% of visits were from new visitors, showing ongoing generation of interest in the project.

To spread news to the widest possible audience extensive use was made of the project mailing list, third party researcher/stakeholder mailing lists (eg jiscmail), news channels of the Commission (Cordis wire) and partners local and national mailing lists. In addition every news item on the website was available via an RSS feed. The mailing lists developed during the life of ERA-AGE 1 were rigorously updated and developed during the life of the project and we now include around almost 2000 contacts of scientists, policy makers, older people, charities, NGOs, politicians and private sector organisations who have some interest in our activities. It has continually being updated and has been used to selectively invite people to specific events or provide generic updates on our activities. All partners are also encouraged to use their own organisational mailing lists – which they cannot share with us – to disseminate further information, and to profile the project on their website.

A suite of promotional material was developed to support the project, including branded event folders, newsletters (a total of six), leaflets and project updates. All were available in hard copy at events, and placed online. ERA-AGE also created online resources to showcase media from meetings and events. The YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/eraage2010) hosts videos and multimedia presentations including an introduction to the project from the Coordinator, Alan Walker, and poster presentations from FLARE 1 Fellows about their FLARE funded research projects. Photographs from ERA-AGE events can be found on our Flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/era-age/). It has been populated with photos from past meetings to create a more complete record of ERA-AGE activities over the years.



ERA-AGE DATABASES
The ERA-AGE databases developed in ERA-AGE 1 were expanded and refreshed during ERA-AGE 2 in support of essential knowledge transfer activities between partners and the wider ageing research community and the presentation of national profiles of ageing research activity.

To accommodate the expansion of databases the entire website was redeveloped; the opportunity was taken to restructure the website to better reflect the range of joint calls and joint activities the consortium has undertaken.

The existing databases on research centres, research funders and their programmes and projects has been updated, and supplemented with profiles from new members of the consortium. Associate members have also been encouraged to supply skeleton profiles wherever possible to introduce database browsers to that country’s institutional research infrastructure.

A swathe of new data was added about key individual researchers in each country. This aims to identify some of the continent’s most essential scientists across a range of disciplines, with inclusion on an “opt-in” basis.



EXPAND CONSORTIUM
Engagement activities with a range of possible partners across Europe and beyond resulted in the expansion of the consortium to a total of 20 partners. A set of eligibility criteria were established that offered membership to those organisations with an existing, or intention to develop, an ageing research programme. The Associate partners were from:
• Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, Quebec (Canada)
• Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Aging, Canada
• Saxon State Ministry of Social Affairs, Saxony (Germany)
• Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania
• Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, Czech Republic
• Lower Silesia Voivodeship Marshal Office, Lower Silesia (Poland)
• The Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland, Ireland

All Associate partners had equal membership status and between them participated fully in joint activities and joint calls.



DEVELOP A JOINT PROGRAMME
The consortium far exceeded its intention to establish an agreement to mount a joint programme for research activities by actually completing a full joint call during the project lifespan. On 1st June 1011 ERA-AGE 2 launched Europe’s first joint research programme in the ageing field by publishing a call for multidisciplinary research applications on ‘Active and Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course’. Six applications received funding after a two stage peer review process.

In total 35 applications were received; six applications successfully completed two peer-reviews and were recommended for funding in June 2012. The quality of applications was so high that a number of funding agencies agreed to increase their budget to accommodate additional projects; in some cases new funders are financing partners in consortia where other sources are not available. Nine funders in seven countries have committed over €4 million to 20 different scientific institutions. The six funded projects reflect a diverse range of issues including continence, hearing, work and retirement, ambient assisted living technologies and environments of ageing.

The call was dedicated to the achievement of enhanced and healthy ageing and, in particular, to address the major priority established by the EIPAHA (European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing) of a 2 year increase in average healthy life expectancy in the European Union by 2020. The tentative title of the planned programme was ‘The New European Dynamics of Ageing’, but the introduction of the EIPAHA led to the ERA-AGE 2 consortium revising its focus to the new European priority.

Applications were invited from multidisciplinary research groups representing 3 to 5 funding countries. Stage-one pre-proposals were submitted between 1 June 2011 and 3 October 2011 to investigate specific research questions related to these three objectives of the call:
• Generate new knowledge on the biological, clinical, behavioural, social and environmental factors that enable individuals to live actively and healthily into later life.
• Explore comparatively different models, methods, approaches and good practices in societal responses to increased longevity which emphasise both social inclusion and sustainability.
• Engage in effective knowledge exchange activities that will assist European and other countries to achieve the goal of increasing healthy life expectancy by 2 years by 2020.
After a rigorous two-stage peer-review process, nine funders in seven countries have committed over €4 million to 20 different partners. The six funded projects reflect a diverse range of issues including continence, hearing, work and retirement, ambient assisted living technologies and environments of ageing.
Funding has generously been provided by:
• Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS), Canada
• Academy of Finland (AKA), Finland
• The Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS), Sweden
• Chief Scientist Office, Ministry of Health (CSO-MOH), Israel
• Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), Luxembourg
• Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada
• Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK
• Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK

Partners from France, Norway and Denmark are also participating in funded projects. The following funding agencies also supported the call, but are not funding any of the six funded projects, because applications did not reach the required standard:
• Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), Belgium
• Caisse Nationale d'Assurance Vieillesse (CNAV), France
• Caisse nationale de solidarité pour l'autonomie (CNSA), France
• Latvian Council of Science (LCS), Latvia
• Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI), Romania
• Ministry of Health, Romania


Funded projects

CONTINENCE ACROSS CONTINENTS TO UPEND STIGMA AND DEPENDENCY (CACTUS-D)
FRQS, Canada - Cara Tannenbaum, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal
ESRC, UK - Eleanor van den Heuvel, Brunel University
CIHR, Canada - Adrian Wagg, University of Alberta

Partners with non-JCRA funding:
France - Xavier Fritel, CHU de Poitiers (funding from INPES and Agence Regional de Sante Poitou-Charentes)

AMBIENT ASSISTIVE LIVING TECHNOLOGIES FOR WELLNESS, ENGAGEMENT, AND LONG LIFE (AAL-WELL)
CIHR, Canada - Alex Mihailidis, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
CIHR, Canada - Andrew Sixsmith, Simon Fraser University
ESRC, UK - Arlene Astell, University of St. Andrews
FAS, Sweden - Louise Nygard, Karolinska Institutet

UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF CONTRASTING URBAN CONTEXTS IN HEALTHY AGING: AN INTERNATIONAL STUDY OF DAILY MOBILITY AND ACTIVE LIVING USING WEARABLE SENSOR DEVICES ACROSS COHORTS (CURHA)
CIHR/FRQS, Canada - Yan Kestens, Université de Montréal
FNR, Luxembourg - Philippe Gerber, CEPS/INSTEAD

Independently funded partners:
France - Basile Chaix, INSERM (funding from Ministry of Transportation, the Syndicat des Transport de I'lle de France (STIF), RATP, SNCF and conseil Regional de I'lle de France)

HEALTHY AGEING IN RESIDENTIAL PLACES (HARP)
CIHR, Canada - Dr. Pat Armstrong, York University
FAS, Sweden- Dr. Marta Szebehely, Stockholm University
ESRC, UK - Dr. Liz Lloyd, University of Bristol

Independently funded partners:
Norway - Dr. Mia Vabø, NOVA – Norwegian Social Research

DETERMINANTS OF HEALTHY AGEING IN WORK AND RETIREMENT: A CROSS-NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL STUDY BASED ON THE INTEGRATED DATASETS ACROSS EUROPE FOR AGEING RESEARCH (IDEAR) NETWORK
FAS, Sweden - Hugo Westerlund, Stockholm University
AKA, Sweden - Jussi Vahtera, University of Turku
ESRC, UK - Jenny Head, UCL

Independently funded partners:
Denmark - Naja Hulvej Rod, University of Copenhagen
France - Marcel Goldberg, INSERM

HEARING, REMEMBERING, AND LIVING WELL: PAYING ATTENTION TO CHALLENGES OF OLDER ADULTS IN NOISY ENVIRONMENTS (HEARATTN)
CSO-MOH, Israel - Daniel A. Levy, The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya
AKA, Finland- Anne Viljanen, University of Jyväskylä
BBSRC, UK - Antje Heinrich, MRC Institute of Hearing Research
CIHR, Canada - Bruce Schneider, University of Toronto
FRQS, Canada - Jean-Pierre Gagné, Université de Montréal



SUMMARY

ERA-AGE 2 has maintained the high standards achieved in ERA-AGE 1 (2004-2009) has succeeded in: expanding its membership, providing networking opportunities between researchers, funders and policy makers; funding 15 new FLARE Fellows; holding three FLARE Summer Schools; and funding Europe’s first joint programme of ageing research. In short, it not only met but far exceeded its original objectives.

The expansion of ERA-AGE 2 brought seven Associate Partners to the consortium, bringing total membership up to 20, with partners from: Quebec (Canada); Canada; Saxony (Germany); Lithuania; Czech Republic; Lower Silesia (Poland); and Ireland.. Four networking Forums aimed at research funders, policy makers and scientists were staged, Brussels (2010 and 2012), Austria and Romania (both 2011), with a combined audience of over 400 people from across Europe.

The second round of the pioneering FLARE programme created 15 new Fellows early-career researchers undertaking multi-disciplinary ageing projects. In addition three Summer Schools were hosted over the life of the project; they brought together FLARE Fellows (past and present) and other post-docs from ERA-AGE partner countries (including Canada) in a four day schedule of lectures, discussion groups, networking and social events.

On 1st June 2011 ERA-AGE 2 launched Europe’s first joint research programme in the ageing field by publishing a call for multidisciplinary research applications on “Active and Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course. In total 35 applications were received and 6 applications received funding after a 2 stage peer review process. The call was dedicated to the achievement of enhanced and healthy ageing and, in particular, to address the major priority established by the EIPAHA of a 2 year increase in healthy life expectancy in the European Union by 2020. The quality of applications was so high that a number of funding agencies agreed to increase their budget to accommodate additional projects; in some cases new funders are financing partners in consortia where other sources are not available. Nine funders in seven countries have committed over €4 million to 20 different scientific institutions. The six funded projects reflect a diverse range of issues including continence, hearing, work and retirement, ambient assisted living technologies and environments of ageing.

Partners have continued to develop the ERA-AGE database with up-to-date information about research centres, funders (their programmes and projects) and researchers from across Europe. The project website was also upgraded to support the development of the database and will remain as a complete archive of project achievements.

ERA-AGE 2's diverse activities have supported collaboration between national agencies, a reduction in duplication and the development of infrastructure to nurture the next generation of ageing researchers and ensure Europe's excellence in this research area is maintained.

Potential Impact:
Strategic and societal impact

The importance of the unprecedented increase in longevity and the overall ageing of Europe’s population is widely recognised by European and national policy makers. Although this remarkable socio-demographic change is the result of Europe’s success in social and economic development it, more or less, presents major policy challenges particularly in terms of health, social care and pensions. These challenges will continue to sharpen over the course of this century. The rising urgency of these challenges is reflected in the initiatives which have been initiated at a European level during the life of ERA-AGE 2, including the European Innovation Partnership pilot project on Active and Healthy Ageing, the Joint Programme Initiative for Demographic Change ‘More Years Better Lives’ and the grand challenge of the Europe 2020 strategy. Member States, their regions and local areas are also developing focussed initiatives to address local issues. ERA-AGE 2 speaks directly to all of these agendas.

During the life of the project ERA-AGE 2 has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders through both joint activities - Forum meetings, FLARE Summer Schools – and the two funding calls. ERA-AGE partners also helped to shape the FUTURAGE Road Map for Ageing Research in Europe (http://futurage.group.shef.ac.uk/).

ERA-AGE has made a major contribution to capacity building in several areas: for early-career researchers; for cross-national research collaboration; and among research funders.

The FLARE Programme has not only expanded, with a new cohort of Fellows, but the three Summer Schools have given space to researchers from divergent disciplines and countries the opportunity to network, share ideas and research progress and build relationships across borders and boundaries in a way that they would not normally do.

The joint call in “Active and Healthy Ageing” also funds unique collaborations between countries and disciplines to address key issues raised by demographic change. Twenty research groups have received funding to work together in support of active and healthy ageing, with a commitment to clearly relate their research results to improving healthy life expectancy.

Finally research funders have, with both the FLARE call and the joint call in ‘Active and Healthy Ageing’ come together to collaborate on a common call, with common processes and aims. They have developed, through this process, trust in each other and the ERA-AGE management team, and supported the funding of 15 individual and 6 multi-partner research projects.

As well as these major impacts in terms of science, policy, practice, product development and participation ERA-AGE 2 has had a number of, more incidental impacts. These include the generation of new and extended databases, new scientific partnerships, new contacts between research funders and other stakeholders.


European Policy Priorities

ERA-AGE 2 activities were undertaken with major EU policy priorities in mind. Thus the joint call ‘Active and Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course’ aims to contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy objective to develop a competitive and resource-efficient economy based on knowledge and innovation. Applicants were specifically asked to target the goal of the Pilot European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing of a 2 year increase in healthy life expectancy in the European Union by 2020 with the aim of funding research which could support the goal of raising the average healthy lifespan in the EU.


Global Policy Priorities

Through support of the EIPAHA goal, the joint call for ‘Active and Healthy Ageing’ also supports the concept of active ageing, which already has a major European and global profile. The European Year of Older People in 1993 represented the first proclamation by Europe of a new active and participative discourse in ageing. This was expanded into an outline of a European approach to active ageing during 1999, the United Nations (UN) Year of Older People. The EC’s policy document and the special conference it staged on the topic of active ageing set a radical vision of this concept and how it would be implemented across a broad field of national and European responsibilities. There is close affinity too with the WHO’s strategy for realising active ageing. The WHO’s approach to active ageing also contributes to the growth of the discourse on older people as active participants in society that had been signalled so strongly at European level in 1993, was reiterated in the European response to the UN Year of Older People in 1999 and will be centre-stage in 2012. The priority of active ageing was adopted by the UN’s Madrid International Action Plan on Ageing (MIAPA) in 2002, along with the principle of older people’s right to participate.



Other European projects

ERA-AGE 2 was the first European project to support collaboration in the ageing field and others have been commissioned subsequently. One of the closest new initiatives to ERA-AGE 2, in scope and activity, is the Joint Programme Initiative "More Years, Better Lives - The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change”. In 2011 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two projects committing both to mutually beneficial cooperative activities and during 2012 discussions opened on the practical nature of the collaboration between the two projects, especially in supporting ERA-AGE 2’s existing research programme.

IT is understand by the ERA-AGE consortium that no further funding was available to it because the Commission favours the JPI initiative. This leaves the ERA-AGE joint programme and FLARE 2 in limbo without supporting infrastructure. At present we are trying to negotiate support from the JPI.

As previously mentioned the ERA-AGE consortium contributed to the FUTURAGE project, and played a foundation role in the development of the Road Map for Ageing Research in Europe. The project also presented the joint research call at the FUTURAGE launch conference in the European Parliament in October 2011.

Links were also established with the BRAID project (Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development), AAL Europe and the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations.


Early signs of impact

The positive impact of ERA-AGE 2 can be seen in the completion of its two successful joint calls, which have created 15 new post-doctoral research fellowships (€1.8 million), and six new research projects (€4 million).

Feedback from the early career researchers who completed their Fellowships have emphasised the completely unique nature of FLARE which provided them with opportunities not available anywhere else. In particular, the following features have been highlighted as providing most value:
• Opportunities to develop and extend networks globally, which have led to the development of future research projects
• The inter-disciplinary exchange of ideas through the FLARE Fellow community, especially during the residential Summer Schools
• The chance for in-depth focus on a personal research interests without any distractions
• Development of project leadership skills - at home and abroad – as FLAREs are PIs on their own project
• Research progression through publications, conferences and new

The current positions of some FLARE 1 Fellows are described below:
• Hans-Jörg Ehni, Deputy Director, Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Tübingen, Germany
• Dietmar Herndler-Brandstetter, Erwin Schroedinger Fellow, School of Medicine, Yale University, USA
• Chengxuan Qiu: Docent (Associate Professor) at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University, Sweden
• Blossom Stephan: Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, UK
• Sandra Torres, Professor of Sociology, Uppsala University, Sweden
• Birgit Trukeschitz, Senior Research Fellow, Research Institute for Economics of Aging, WU - Vienna University of Economics and Business
• Jochen Ziegelmann, Research Scientist, German Centre of Gerontology (DZA), Germany

The joint call ‘Active and Healthy Ageing Across the Life Course’ has supported 20 academic institutions in six projects in 7 countries, with some funders increasing their budgets in response to the quality of the applications. Not all funders used their funding, so a possible €5 million was made available to the call. The call also demonstrates the high level of demand from the research community for multidisciplinary, multinational research. This call, the first of its kind, received 35 applications for a total of €22 million of funding. The development of process and protocol to meet all funders’ needs provides a clear model for the future of this joint approach for future calls, with the nine funders between them demonstrating a high level of cooperation and collaboration in bringing the call to conclusion.

The consortium partners have also directly gained benefit from the project and their ongoing collaboration with each other. At the heart of the consortium is the joint understanding that the ageing population poses challenges that must be addressed at European level, as well as national and regional; partners have used their participation in ERA-AGE to set priorities for national calls and long-term investments, shape research programmes and develop practice.

There is a shared commitment to break down barriers between ageing research and policy, and this has been underpinned by an ongoing multi-directional, multi-national learning exchange between partners. The structured, outcome oriented approach of ERA-AGE – especially the role of the Forums - has been mentioned as being of particular value. The commentary from one of our Canadian partners, a testimonal to the value of ERA-AGE, is reproduced below:

“The introduction of a collaborative scheme supporting transnational initiatives in Europe has been extremely attractive for Canadians since its introduction by the European Union Scientific Commission. The Canadian commitment to this approach has its roots in a strong belief in the importance of a collaborative research approach to the opportunities and challenges related to the health and wellness of the aging population. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), through its Institute of Aging, thus joined the ERA-AGE family as an associate member in 2009.

Since then, the Institute of Aging has benefited from our increased collaboration with all of the partners involved in the ERA-AGE adventure. For the CIHR Institute of Aging, the most extraordinary experience was the preparation, launch and processes defined in a collaborative manner for the Joint Call for Research on Ageing. Along with the other Canadian partner, the Fonds de recherche du Quebec - Santé, the CIHR Institute of Aging has gained unique international experience and provided an opportunity for Canadian researchers to link with their European colleagues in the context of a meaningful global effort to contribute to the health and wellness of the aging population.

Throughout the ERA-AGE partnership, CIHR has always felt a strong and inclusive leadership from Prof Alan Walker and a superb support from all of the ERA-AGE team, starting with the efficient and important contributions of Juliet Craig.

The ERA-AGE adventure will remain a unique one in the mind of the CIHR Institute of Aging. It will inspire us in the future to pursue our support in linking the respective excellence and expertise of Canadian and European researchers through the new channels that will become available. We wish to thank ERA-AGE for this experience and we look forward to future collaborations between Europe and Canada to the benefit of an optimal life trajectory for all citizens of the world. A bientôt!”

Yves Joanette, Scientific Director
Joanne Goldberg, Assistant Director (Montréal)
Michelle Peel, Assistant”



Dissemination

The project website provided the key source information during the life of the project. News, reports and promotional material were all available to any visitor and visits to the website have been steady at between 1100-1300 per month, with peaks of interest related to specific events. Just over 70% of visits were new ones, showing ongoing generation of interest in the project.

To spread news to the widest possible audience extensive use was made of the project mailing list (evolving through the life of the project and now at almost 2000 names), third party researcher mailing lists (eg jiscmail), news channels of the Commission (Cordis wire) and partners local and national mailing lists. In addition every news item on the website was available via an RSS feed.

A suite of promotional material was developed to support the project, including branded event folders, newsletters (a total of six), leaflets and project updates. All were available in hard copy at events, and placed online. ERA-AGE also created online resources to showcase media from meetings and events. The YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/eraage2010) hosts videos and multimedia presentations including an introduction to the project from the Coordinator, Alan Walker, and poster presentations from FLARE 1 Fellows about their FLARE funded research projects. Photographs from ERA-AGE events can be found on our Flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/era-age/). It has been populated with photos from past meetings to create a more complete record of ERA-AGE activities over the years.

List of Websites:
http://www.era-age.group.shef.ac.uk/