Open Life secures funding for longer, healthier lives

Open Life data project secures funding to help UK develop pandemic resilience and promote healthy life extension.

The All Party-Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity has been awarded funding from the Health Foundation to design a framework to harness data in our lives in solutions that will help us live more healthily for longer.

Longevity.Technology: The Open Life Data framework was a recommendation of The Health of the Nation Strategy published a year ago by the APPG to deliver the government goal of five extra years of healthy life expectancy while reducing health inequalities (HLE+5). This news follows last month’s House of Lords report, which argues that the UK Government continues to fail to meet the challenges and realise the opportunities of aging.

The framework will help researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurs work out what non-health data (such as mobility, consumer, financial, environmental) and health data (such as medical records) provide the most insight into helping individuals stay healthy while enhancing overall health resilience at a population health level. This insight will guide the development of ethical, trusted solutions across the private, public, not-for-profit and academic sectors to meet the HLE+5 goal.

“This is exciting news to further the mission of ‘healthy longevity for all’ and focusing attention on the value of non-health data in health prevention,”

The framework will identify strategies to achieve pandemic resilience, develop use cases for innovators and entrepreneurs, and inform the value of UK health data assets to feed into UK economic strategy and its global ambition to lead in science and AI.

The principles and methodology of Open Banking will be applied to make health and non-health data useful at scale, taking learnings from the finance model that has successfully opened up innovation to benefit UK consumers.

Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation says: “We are pleased to be supporting the development of the Open Life Data Framework, which we hope can showcase the value of non-health data in helping achieve better health for everyone. The experience of the pandemic has highlighted the need for responsible and ethical uses of data to be harnessed to help improve health and reduce health inequalities.”

The group, comprising 40 experts, is chaired by Lord James O’Shaughnessy, former Undersecretary of Health and visiting professor at Imperial College. The core team includes Gavin Starks, CEO of Dgen, and co-architect of the Open Banking standard; Professor Iain Buchan, Executive Dean, University of Liverpool; Richard Sloggett, Founder and Programme Director, Future Health Research Centre; and Lord Geoff Filkin and Tina Woods, co-authors of the Health of the Nation Strategy.

Lord O’Shaughnessy says: “The Open Life Data Framework is focussed on extending – and making more equal – the healthy longevity of British citizens across their life course. The UK is already a leader in science and technology and we want to bolster this with individual and population health strategies that will have the greatest short-term and longer-term impact on health and economic resilience post-Covid.”

Tina Woods
Tina Woods, co-author of the Health of the Nation Strategy.

Longevity.Technology reached out to Tina Woods for her reaction. “This is exciting news to further the mission of ‘healthy longevity for all’ and focusing attention on the value of non-health data in health prevention,” she told us. “The longevity community has long talked about the value of open repositories for ageing biomarkers and this comes hot on the heels of the recent Lords Science and Technology Select Committee report calling for more funding in ageing research and using AI to identify accurate biomarkers of ageing for personalised health interventions.”

Damian Green, Chair of the APPG on Longevity, says: “Using data intelligently and ethically to help improve the health of individuals is one of the big post-Covid tasks for the whole health system. I hope this initiative will be a significant step forward in achieving this vital aim.”