The future of the Ageing 'grand challenge'

The UK’s ageing population is presenting a significant test to the economy, with greater caring demands on those of working age and increased health and social care costs, while also reducing the size of the workforce and reducing productivity. In this morning long session we will discuss the future of the ageing grand challenge under the new government. We will discuss how the public, private and not for profit sectors can work together to make a more inclusive economy, and realise a business opportunity for the UK.

You will:

  • Learn how UK's National Innovation Centre for Ageing is leading on innovations in ageing that will improve all aspects of our ageing societies
  • Hear the funding that is now available to address the ageing grand challenge and find out how you can support
  • Learn how leading businesses are looking to capitalise on the opportunity the ageing population presents with both support and services, both here in the UK and globally
  • Find out the role of digital revolution and data in supporting an ageing population
  • Learn how the ageing grand challenge is being addressed in Local Industrial Strategies


  • Professor Patrick Bonnett

    Development Director

    National Innovation Centre for Ageing

    Patrick is Development Director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University. He has worked widely across the applied research and innovation arenas for the past 33 years in organisations ranging from small technology start-ups to internationally recognised translational research laboratories. His experience encompasses planning and opening new businesses and government agencies, overseeing the design, establishment and management of innovation centres and Science Parks, developing international alliances of innovation organisations and innovation places and delivering economic growth via innovation. Over recent years he has developed a particular interest in deep collaboration co-location models where innovation and research assets sit alongside 'users' of such expertise to drive open innovation, commercialisation and economic growth. Patrick is Vice Chairman of the UK Science Park Association, a Board member of the UK Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations (Airto) and a member of the Satellite Applications Catapult Advisory Board. He also acts as an Advisor to Government on the Ageing Grand Challenge - one of the four Grand Challenges within the UK Industrial Strategy.

  • Nathalie Carter

    Research and Innovation Manager

    NHS England and NHS Improvement

    Nathalie is an Innovation and Research Manager in the Innovation, Research and Life Sciences Group, NHS England and NHS Improvement. The group are responsible for the adoption and uptake of innovative technologies and research. Our programmes enable new treatments and diagnostics across a range of health challenges– We support innovators through funding such as SBRI healthcare and the £140 million Artificial Intelligence Health and Care Award. With a growing and ageing population, the NHS long term plan recognises the need to improve care quality. Nathalie is a member of the NHS international working group, and has attended trade missions to Boston, USA, one of the world’s most innovative life science ecosystems. Nathalie is based in the North East and is passionate about reducing health inequalities, having worked with many organisations locally such as Age-UK. Nathalie has a background in public health and recently contributed to Cumbria and the North East achieving the highest uptake nationally, of flu vaccinations in pregnant women. Nathalie studied an MSc in Health, Community and Development at the London School of Economics, followed by a Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology at Newcastle University.

  • George MacGinnis

    Challenge Director, Healthy Ageing

    UK Research and Innovation

    George MacGinnis leads the £98 million Healthy Ageing research and innovation challenge, part of the UK Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge mission to ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest. He has a varied background in health and care innovation including recent work on the future capacity needs for a reformed health and social care system in the Republic of Ireland, a review of the impact on the NHS of Small Business Research Initiative in Healthcare, a landscape review of the MedTech sector for the Academic Health Science Networks and leading the user group for a global industry alliance to enable a consumer-friendly market for digital wellness and health products and services through standards and accreditation.

  • Alan Welby

    Innovation Director

    North East Local Enterprise Partnership

    Alan Welby leads the LEP’s Innovation Programme, which aims to drive delivery of key programmes and stimulate investment in innovation and its ecosystem in the North East of England. Alan joined the LEP from Liverpool John Moores University, where he was Director of Research, Innovation and Partnerships and was responsible for the delivery and management of a £25.7m annual programme of community, commercial and collaborative activity.

  • Tom Willows

    Real Estate Partner

    Womble Bond Dickinson

    Tom is a Real Estate Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, specialising in residential and residential-led mixed use developments, in both the build for sale and build to rent sectors, advising landowners, developers and investors on transaction structuring, complex site assembly, development and funding agreements. Tom leads the firm's build to rent practice nationally. Womble Bond Dickinson act for a number of investors and stakeholders involved in the later living sector. The firm offers those clients and contacts a first rate service and pride themselves at being at the heart of the sector and understanding its key drivers. Tom has a particular interest in the silver economy and the importance of understanding its buying power and requirements.

  • Mary Bright

    Corporate Affairs Manager

    Phoenix Group

    Mary is specialist policy adviser to Andy Briggs, the Government’s Business Champion for both the Industrial Strategy Age Grand Challenge  and for Older Workers. Mary has worked extensively with business, third sector and policy makers on issues relating to our Ageing Society. In 2018 she was appointed by the Women and Equalities Select Committee as a specialist adviser to their enquiry into age discrimination at work.   Mary has also worked for much of her career in financial services which means she understands the importance of both preparing for and celebrating our increasing longevity.


Agenda - The future of the Ageing 'grand challenge'


At present, this event is scheduled to take place as a panel briefing in Newcastle. WIG will continue to monitor the situation with Covid-19 and the format of the event will be changed should the circumstances not be suitable for a physical event to take place.