Supporting entrepreneurship in older adults

The 50,000 EUR Smart Ageing prize is seeking solutions that support, empower and inspire older adults to engage in entrepreneurship.

There is a growing number of active older people seeking professional opportunities, combined with a rapidly developing environment for start-ups and entrepreneurship across Europe. This creates a great opportunity to make the most of the talents of this older generation within the sector. It is important to recognise that involvement in enterprise is not limited to those who want to set up their own business. Other fruitful routes into the sector can include mentoring/coaching for younger entrepreneurs, or going into business with an intergenerational team.

This is why the AAL Programme and Nesta Challenges are pleased to announce the official launch of the third edition of the Smart Ageing Series on Senior Enterprise: A prize enabling all ages to thrive through enterprise.

What is the prize looking for?

This prize is open to individuals, groups and organisations located in the “EU 28” countries plus Canada, Taiwan and the countries Associated to Horizon 2020. Applicants must be aged 18 or over.

A few things you should bear in mind whilst preparing your application:

  • We’re looking for solutions that are innovative. The prize is not looking to support a solution such as a website with no innovative digital component. The technology can be incrementally innovative, but it should be something that isn’t already available on the market.
  • The solution must be supported by a strong and viable business model. This means having thought carefully about your customer segment and designed the product in conjunction with end users, to ensure it meets their needs, wishes and aspirations.
  • Importantly, your solution should be capable of delivering a measurable improvement in the number of older adults participating in entrepreneurial ventures, and really championing the assets and skills of senior talent.

You can read more about what we are looking for in the eligibility criteria and the judging criteria.

How does the prize work?

After the application deadline at 17:00 CET on February 26th 2020, the judging panel will select 15 semi-finalists to attend a mentoring academy in Brussels. Semi-finalists will be expected to bring a working demonstration to the event.

Each team will be matched with a specialist coach to guide them through improving the business proposition, testing with end users and evidencing the impact of the solution. Supported by their coach, each semi-finalist will submit a detailed business plan, outlining their proposed route to market within 12-18 months following the awarding of the prize and their plan to create a sustainable business model.

From the business plans, the judges will select five top finalists to attend an awards ceremony, to be held at the annual AAL Forum in September 2020. The prize pot would be split into three awards: 35,000 EUR for first place, 10,000 EUR for the first runner up, and 5,000 EUR for the second runner up.

How do I apply?

You can submit an application online. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 17:00 Brussels time.

Further information about the Smart Ageing Prize can be found on the website, including the Terms and Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),


Orpa Haque

Orpa Haque

Orpa Haque

Assistant Programme Manager

At Nesta Challenges, Orpa delivered programmes focused on social impact, including a flagship programme, The Mobility Unlimited Challenge.

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