Inside the UK business community’s mission to become a leader in Agetech.
UK business leaders gathered in the City yesterday to discuss the development of products and services that facilitate better aging at the launch of the Longevity Leaders World Congress running in London, 21-22 April 2020.
Parallels have been drawn between the fledgling Agetech sector and the now booming Fintech sector of five years ago. Since 2014, the UK’s Fintech investment market has grown from $0.2bn USD to $3bn USD, compared with $36bn USD invested globally. Some might argue that the UK missed out on really making a global impact in Fintech. With Agetech projected to become a multi-trillion dollar economy, stakeholders are banking on early innovation, ambitious investment and government support to put the UK at its forefront.
“Today Agetech globally is about $1 trillion a year in revenue of which at least 50% is generated by powerful digital firms such as Amazon and Apple,” said Dominic Endicott, founding partner, 4GEN Ventures. “It will double to $2 trillion by 2025. UK Agetech start-ups already generate around £400m in revenue, but as the wave unfolds, we believe this could grow to £5bn in 2025. UK firms will also be in prime position to later grow into large markets such as the US, where Agetech revenue in 2025 could pass $35bn.”
Rather than focusing on the stereotype of elderly people without agency or purpose, the focus of the Longevity Leaders World Congress is on aging as a positive and proactive process, which some of the UK’s most prominent companies are looking to facilitate.
“Supporting our growing aging population and looking after the financial wellbeing of younger generations to come is one of the most important issues of the future,” said Elisabeth Bremner, a partner in the Financial Services Regulatory team at law firm CMS. “With the next generation of retirees poorly prepared for later life costs, shortfalls in social care spending and failings in government policy, the once hoped for expectation that parents would pass on a legacy to their children is weakening. Money flows are shifting into reverse as children help fund the needs of their ageing parents and face disruptions in working patterns to help provide care; stalling their own hopes and aspirations.”
Consulting firm Mercer has created the Next Age Next Stage program, which sets out a vision for how older workers can be beneficial to companies and why it’s important that businesses should retain, retrain and recruit older employees. With a growing elderly population, Mercer believes it is imperative that new structures be put into place to allow individuals to work beyond the traditional retirement age. This provides a way for people to stay financially healthy, as well as making sure they maintain a sense of purpose and community.
“Longevity poses one of the biggest challenges of our time in relation to the impact on work, workers and workplace,” said Yvonne Sonsino, Innovation Leader at Mercer. “Combined with 4IR style automation and its associated impact in the same sphere, this is an incredibly exciting time to be working with employers to work out how to embrace longevity to ensure their businesses thrive as a result of getting it right.”
Vodafone is working on harnessing technology to tackle loneliness. The company analysed the economic cost that isolation brings among people over 50 years old and discovered an annual cost of £1.8bn to the UK economy. Vodafone focused on how to better understand technology and its uses in reducing loneliness and promoting an active lifestyle, and is now working on a series of programs to improve day-to-day use of technology for people over 50.
The launch event showed that it isn’t just the big companies who see the opportunity to serve the UK’s aging population. Also present were a host of start-up entrepreneurs, including companies like Chronomics, Kemuri, and Zone V, who are developing tools to help individuals manage their own health and financial wellness, as well as protect their assets, establish online and physical communities, and integrate technology seamlessly into their lives.
The financial opportunity presented by the sector was reflected by the attendance of a wide range of investors, including VCs, angel investors and corporate venture teams. Their presence brings up an important question: could the UK become the world’s Agetech hub?
The Longevity Leaders World Congress takes place in London, 21-22 April 2020.