The SILVER project (Supporting Independent LiVing for the Elderly through Robotics) has been selected as one of the Top 25 influential ICT for Active and Healthy Ageing projects by the European Commission. Forum Virium Helsinki was a partner in the project, and the outcome of the project, namely the LEA Care robot, was tested in the cities of Vantaa and Oulu in Finland.
The aim of the SILVER project was to search for new technologies to assist elderly people in their everyday lives. Therefore, a LEA Care robot was developed by Robot Care Systems to enable the elderly to live independently at home even if they have physical or cognitive disabilities. LEA can offer help with daily routines and housekeeping. It also stimulates the elderly to stay active and can act as a personal trainer. Because of these functionalities, LEA can be used also for rehabilitation.
In the SILVER project, the new technologies and solutions were sought by using a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP). Therefore, one of the aims of the project was to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach to address societal and governmental needs since Pre-Commercial Procurement had been an under-utilized tool for promoting innovation during that time in Europe.
SILVER boosts the use of robotics and innovative procurement
The EU commission study analysed the impact on society of EU-funded Research and Innovation in technology for active and healthy ageing. In the report, written by the European research and consultation company Outsight, the study concluded that “the SILVER project has supported the uptake of new technologies and has broadened the knowledge in the area of care robotics. It has also created a highly professional network within the field of public procurement that will open new opportunities in both national and international contexts”.
The study also concluded of the SILVER project, that:
It has provided the opportunity for better understanding of the innovation process within the healthcare technology field, cross organisational and transnational innovation, user-driven product development as well as practical management of complex and explorative projects.
The SILVER project is a pioneer example of a Pre-Commercial Procurement process at EU scale, producing guidelines and templates developed for the PCP process itself, as well as supporting information for contractors, providing assistance throughout the entire process.
Development of the LEA Care robot, was a game changer in its field. From helping with daily routines and housekeeping to serving as a personal trainer or even dance partner, the robotic stroller/walker system has a significant impact on those with mobility or cognitive disabilities.
All the SILVER procurers agreed that there is future potential for LEA Care robot in supporting the SILVER challenge of caring for 10% more care recipients with the same number of staff after further development.
Strong support of European SMEs (such as Robot Care Systems). The Pre-Commercial Procurement process provides a good opportunity for the development of new innovative solutions.
LEA Care robot is already attracting attention, with Robot Care Systems having won several innovation contests, including the SHELL WIRE 2015 and RABOBANK Innovation 69 awards. It’s has also secured over EUR 5 million in additional funding.
Project documents produced have been used in most other EU Pre-Commercial Procurement, the impact towards Pre-Commercial Procurement process standardisation is evident.
Further exploitation of project results through networks such as the European Connected Health Alliance, which has a large connector platform to share the lessons from Project SILVER as well as bring the contractor to a wider market.
Participation of SILVER partners in other projects such as SELECT for Cities, CHARM, THALEA, Preforma and ENIGMA.
SILVER was a research and development project to establish and to execute a Pre-Commercial Procurement process suitable for the conditions for cross-border project implementation across several EU countries. It was funded by the European Union under the ICT cooperation part of the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7). The project started in January 2012 and ran for 51 months. SILVER had partners in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and United Kingdom. From Finland, along with Forum Virium Helsinki, the cities of Vantaa and Oulu as well as Aalto University were partners in the project.