Nesta and UKRI offering £6m funding for start-ups in healthy ageing

old man

Nesta – the UK’s innovation foundation for social good – and UK Research and Investment (UKRI) have announced a new two-year partnership to provide up to £6m in combined investment and grant funding for companies working to improve health outcomes in later life.

This funding partnership is a significant step towards increasing healthy life expectancy in the UK, which has slowed dramatically as health inequalities have widened. Research shows that on average the poorest in society die around nine years before their more affluent peers, and experience ill health almost two decades earlier.

The new Nesta and UKRI fund aims to support companies between Seed stage to Series A offering products or services to increase healthy life expectancy and reduce health inequalities. Nesta is particularly looking to invest in start-ups that are focused on reducing loneliness – for instance for those transitioning to living in care – or supporting people to remain in work in later life, which is crucial to quality of life.

Potential investees can apply for between £250k and £1m of investment capital from Nesta Impact Investments. Nesta is making up to £3m of funding available. Qualifying companies will then be eligible to apply for further match grant funding from Innovate UK.

Manish Miglani, Investment Director, Nesta Impact Investments, said: “Nesta is committed to increasing the average number of healthy years lived in the UK, whilst narrowing health inequalities. This £6m partnership with UKRI will enable us to invest in innovative approaches, and solutions that can overcome an issue that is central to Nesta’s mission through Impact Investments. We are particularly interested in companies between Seed stage and Series A that are reskilling older people to reduce later years unemployment – further perpetuated by the ongoing pandemic – as well as solutions that can keep people healthy and independent for longer.”

George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, UK Research and Innovation, said: “UKRI’s new partnership with Nesta will deliver meaningful investment in helping people live longer, high-quality lives with dignity.  The Healthy Ageing Challenge sits at the heart of healthy ageing research and development in the UK and is an engine driving economic and social development. The issue of inequality in health and the effect it has on later years has yet to be solved.  We can’t expect that just providing more of the same old products and services will address this.  As a nation we need to encourage, support and nurture radical, disruptive approaches that change the game for people at risk of poor health outcomes, investing in prevention and supporting life choices that enable us to get ahead of the curve of health inequality later in life.”