Research funds available to increase European life expectancy by two years

27 July 2011

€4.2 million of funding has been made available to European researchers, with the aim of increasing healthy life expectancy by two years within the European Union by 2020.

Longer, healthier lives may be just around the corner as researchers from across Europe are able to bid for funding for Europe's first joint call for ageing research – ERA-AGE 2. The UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have joined agencies from Canada, Finland, France, Israel, Luxembourg, Latvia, Romania, and Sweden to fund multidisciplinary teams made up of up to five of the partner countries.

Professor Alan Walker, Director of ERA-AGE 2 at the University of Sheffield commented: "This is a giant step for ageing research. It is Europe’s first such programme and is aimed directly at providing the research knowledge that will help European countries to respond to population ageing and ensure the maximization of health and wellbeing in later life".

The research call concentrates on healthy ageing and, in particular, addressing a key aim of the European Commission’s Active and Healthy Ageing Innovation Partnership - to increase healthy life expectancy by two years within the European Union by 2020.

The European Research Area in Ageing 2 (ERA-AGE 2) call enables researchers from all disciplines to put in applications addressing “Active and healthy ageing across the life course”. The research funded will aim to generate new insights on the factors that enable individuals to live actively and healthily into later life.

Adrian Alsop, Director for Research and International Strategy at the ESRC, said: "The ESRC is proud to be playing a leading role in this new European programme. It will build on our excellent national research, and begin to address what is a key challenge for the whole of Europe. It creates an opportunity for the best UK social scientists to collaborate with experts from other countries and will benefit the wider society."

Professor Janet Allen, Director of Research, BBSRC said "Partnerships between researchers across Europe are very valuable. By encouraging this way of working we aim to ensure that some of the biggest challenges we face can be addressed through the highest quality research. It is hoped that ERA-AGE 2 will bring together some of the best expertise and resource from across Europe to generate knowledge that will ultimately improve health and wellbeing in later life for many people."

Applications are invited from multidisciplinary research groups representing three to five funding countries. Stage-one pre-proposals can be submitted until 3 October 2011 under three areas:

  • Generate new knowledge on the biological, clinical, behavioural, social and environmental factors that enable individuals to live actively and healthily into later life.
  • Explore comparatively different models, methods, approaches and good practices in societal responses to increased longevity which emphasise both social inclusion and sustainability.
  • Engage in effective knowledge exchange activities that will assist European and other countries to achieve the goal of increasing healthy life expectancy by two years by 2020.

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors:

  1. Full information on the call themes, processes and an application form is available from the ERA-AGE website.
  2. BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences and the largest single public funder of agriculture and food-related research. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC's budget for 2011-12 is around £445 million which it is investing in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2011/12 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.