The workshop took place on the 4th of June 2019 in Riihimäki Business Development Co, Riihimäki, Finland. There were nearly 30 participants in the event. The objective of the Focus group workshop was the identification of silver economy knowledge-intensive areas for potential growth.
The expert speakers represented the silver economy from as many viewpoints as possible. Investigational know-how involving smart technology, care and construction, and which reflected the future, was presented.
Principal lecturer Katariina Välikangas of HAMK stated that too many decisions are nowadays made on the basis of care and that more thought should be put on the overall picture and the various needs of seniors. Currently, a wider overview of Finnish housing policy appears to be missing. To Välikangas, one bright spot is the return of the elderly citizen’s councils; senior citizens need their own spokespeople to promote their interests!
Architect SAFA Anne Ranta-Eskola of Arcare Oy stated that many things have to be considered during the planning phase of construction projects directed at seniors. These are functionality, efficiency, economy, energy efficiency, accessibility, a good life, the needs of the inhabitant and their loved ones, and good-quality working conditions for the staff.
According to Regional Development Specialist Minna Takala of the Regional Council of Häme it is essential to combine various sectors, such as creative industries, construction and robotics, instead of only thinking about things in a silo-like fashion.
Chairman of the Board Timo Liukko of Small Data Garden (and First Round Oy) stated that there was often a need for various devices and systems that could help with everyday life, but that a readiness to buy such things was another matter entirely. People are inventive, and there are lots of new ideas, but testing and piloting them is more challenging. It is important to discuss how the money is channelled, whether it is a commercial business model or something else. That is also why it is important to measure and calculate the benefits.
The preliminary speeches inspired for further debate and the participants innovated a lot of new senior-related business needs. The participants agreed that many seniors have strong prejudices about new technology. Such concerns could be alleviated by e.g. allowing seniors to try out the technology in controlled conditions in health clinics, libraries or other suitable facilities.