#hackUniTO is an initiative launched in November 2016 by the University of Turin, Italy with the aim to enhance research on ageing and facilitate collaboration between universities, research bodies, public administration and various actors in the ecosystem. The objective is to bring products, services and solutions to market that benefit a healthier and more active aging of the population. #hackUniTO for Ageing is driving knowledge exchange by three collaborative networks and matchmaking events:

  • Network of researchers, includes universities and research bodies, representing 29 Italian universities with more than 830 researchers, and welcoming international collaboration
  • Network of implementers, consists of companies, policy makers, third sector, associations and political decision-makers
  • Network of supporters of research and development, consists of philanthropic foundations and impact investors

There are already 290 research projects and ideas available for new projects on their website, with creative solutions offered for the following dimensions of a person's life: living (housing); art and creativity; healing (health); physical activity; working life; creative life; mobility (transport); nutrition; prevention; ageing studies; and social relationships (connectivity).

To join #hackUniTO for ageing

Researchers from universities and research organizations in Italy and abroad, individually or in teams, can join the virtual collaborative space and provide visibility to their research projects on the website. Companies, policy makers, third sector bodies, start-ups, etc. can also register by creating a profile, flag their interest in collaborating with researchers and ultimately participate in research projects. Venture capitalists, angel investors and charities etc. interested in collaboration and supporting research projects can also join the co-creation.

One of the collaborative projects is ITIFconnect. This project aims to support older people by assessing their level of frailty and providing personalised and geo-localized indications of appropriate activities in their region through an online platform. The ultimate goal of the project is to reduce the prevalence of frailty and functional decline of older people in the community. This project benefits from the support of the call “A Social Innovation to Assess and Prevent Frailty in the Elderly” (Bando Smart Cities and Communities and Social Innovation) funded by the Italian government (MIUR). Collaborators include University of Turin, Rijksuniversiteit of Groningen, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, and the municipality of Rivoli.

Another research project EDSU, focuses on the concept of user-centred design to make older people’s home a safe and comfortable place, where people are less exposed to the risks associated with aging and guarantee privacy, autonomy and well-being for longer. It seeks to achieve this goal through a “lifelong technological integration” of smart and connected devices. This is a truly collaborative effort of four organisations: University of Genoa, Dublin Institute of Technology, Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute and Loughborough Design School.

A third research project, HealthHUB aims to create a participatory patient-centric mobile health hub for older people. The concept is an advanced clinical support system for the identification of early signs and symptoms of multimorbidity affecting older people.  Once implemented, it will be an interoperable and integrated service where data can be collected for both Electronic Health Records and Personal Health Records and stored in a private cloud environment. The ambition of the project is to engage older citizens to manage their own health and disease using a mobile app.

We could go on and on to describe the new concepts, products and services designed with the older people in the centre at #hackUniTO. However such a collaborative space has the true potential to develop solutions based on needs, and with investors involved from the beginning, there is a real chance that these innovative solutions will be brought to the market without delay. It may be too early to open a bottle of prosecco and celebrate, but it is certainly high time to keep our eyes open not to miss the next big step in ageing research!

#hackUniTO: http://www.hu4a.it/info/l-iniziativa.html
Knowledge exchange: http://www.hu4a.it/info/il-knowledge-interchange.html
Project overview: http://www.hu4a.it/progetti.html
ITIFConnect: http://www.hu4a.it/progetti/details/28/15.html
EDSU: http://www.hu4a.it/progetti/details/28/160.html
HealthHUB: http://www.hu4a.it/progetti/details/28/269.html