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Innovation for better ageing

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BFHA 2020 (Innovation for better ageing)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2020-09-30

"Populations around the world are ageing faster than ever in the past. In the next 30 years, every third person in the world will fall into the category of a senior citizen. This demographic transition will have an impact on almost all aspects of society and requires a complete and well-defined shift in the paradigm in the medical, social, and technological fields.
Croatia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 highlighted demographic challenges and ageing as essential issues. Under the Horizon 2020 Work Programme Health, demographic change and wellbeing 2018-2020 call 10 within the section ""Other actions"", an e- conference Better Future of Healthy Ageing 2020 (BFHA 2020) took place as a part of Croatian Presidency event – Innovation for better ageing"", organised by the University of Zagreb School of Medicine at the Andrija Štampar School of Public Health. The e-conference had a full-coverage European outreach engaging over 400 participants – researchers, policy experts, representatives of companies and relevant medical and health-related associations.
The overall mission of the BFHA 2020 Conference was to stimulate research, implementation and scaling up innovations to manage health and wellbeing of the ageing population.
The objectives of the BFHA 2020 Conference were: i) to address issues of ageing of biological systems through the topics of regenerative medicine, neuroscience, clinical medicine and other fields of medicine with the emphasis on personalised and integrated medicine; ii) to showcase the impact of smart technologies for age-friendly ecosystems by providing a discussion on scaling up innovations and solutions for age-friendly environments; iii) to analyse the issues of ageing and healthcare system sustainability at various levels (e.g. institutional, regional, state, EU level)."
Given the short time frame to fulfil the project objectives, the month of December of 2019 was filled with intensive preparations. By the end of the month, over 70% of members of the four boards were confirmed. The conference website went online in the second half of January together with a marketing campaign. By the end of January, enough invited and keynote lecturers were confirmed to complete the draft folder of the conference programme.
The abstract application deadline was February 20th, 2020. The final version of the conference proceedings had more than 190 abstracts. The original conference date, April 6th to 7th, 2020, began to seem ever more unlikely because of the COVID 19 pandemic as well as a catastrophic 5.4 magnitude earthquake that hit the city of Zagreb on March 22nd, 2020. It was decided that the BFHA 2020 Conference will be held online from June 3rd to June 5th, 2020.
In April templates for the e-posters were sent and the special edition of Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ) was announced. Chairpersons and moderators for the BFHA 2020 Conference were selected and contacted. Registrations also received an increase in numbers and passed 615, more than twice the original number. The Cisco WebX platform was chosen to host the e-conference, and the presentations were recorded in advance.
The Conference Proceedings in the form of a digital edition of the Liječnički vjesnik were published on the conference website as well as all the posters submitted to the BFHA 2020 Conference.
Every day of the conference was split into one keynote speaker session followed by five topical sessions. Each keynote speakers' session had two to four speakers with presentations lasting for 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute discussion. The five thematic sessions consisted of an invited lecture (15 minutes) and three oral presentations (8 minutes) followed by a 20-minute discussion.
A poster session was concluded with awards for the best poster in each of the main three topics of the BFHA 2020 Conference and two best student posters. The third and final day of the BFHA 2020 Conference ended with an over hour-long live discussion concerning the BFHA 2020 Recommendations and conference Policy Paper. The Recommendations were published on June 30th, 2020, and later expanded into Policy Paper which was published at the conference website and online edition of Liječnički vjesnik in July.
During the three days of the BFHA 2020 Conference, the following number of presentations was held: 13 opening remarks, 8 keynote lectures, 16 invited lectures, and 48 oral presentations with more than 100 posters being shown on the conference website and stream together with Introductory speeches from representatives of the EU, the Croatian government, the University of Zagreb, the School of Medicine and the WHO.
According to an anonymous online evaluation, the overall mark of the BFHA 2020 Conference was 'very good’/’excellent'.
The e-conference Better Future of Healthy Ageing 2020 addressed and contributed to the following: i) the challenges posed by the ageing population in Europe which have been a focal point of debates on the future of EU; ii) European 2020 strategy for a smart sustainable and inclusive growth that emphasises the need to promote active ageing policies; iii) Digital Single Market Strategy priorities on digital transformation in healthcare and the Scaling Up Strategy of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP on AHA); iv) the beginning of the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing – from 2020 to 2030. and ageing as one of the crucial societal challenges on the national level as reflected in the Presidency priority of the Ministry of the health of the Republic of Croatia.
Most of the impact is expected in the following categories and the following outcomes: scientific, societal, and economical. The scientific impact was addressed by state-of-art keynote and invited lectures, discussions, and conclusions of each conference panel, alongside presentations of talented young researchers and students. The Conference Proceedings in the form of a digital edition of the Liječnički vjesnik were published on the conference website as well as all the posters submitted to the BFHA 2020 Conference. Special edition of Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ) dedicated to the subject of healthy ageing was published. It contained one editorial and 16 scientific papers. Conference posters are available on the conference website and conference video presentations in a special conference YouTube channel.
The main outcome of the BFHA 2020 Conference was the Policy Paper which is based on the BFHA 2020 Recommendations. The BFHA 2020 Recommendations were prepared during the conference and expanded upon into a Policy Paper, which was published at the conference website and online edition of Liječnički vjesnik. This Policy Paper aimed to develop forward-looking valuation pathways and impact approaches and dimensions of ageing research for transformative, mission-oriented research and innovation agendas, which can be taken up in the formulation of ageing services as well as on international level. The BFHA 2020 Policy Paper was sent to Mrs Dubravka Šuica, Vice-president for Democracy and Demography of the European Commission, who will embed it to a “Green Paper on ageing”, a non-legislative initiative under the sixth priority of the European Commission's 2020 work programme “A New Push for the European Democracy”, which will have a strong political and socio-economic impact.