What do we know about Elderly Service and Technology?

Researchers have found innovation, specifically, technology can improve elderly lives and other stakeholders’ benefits in the long run. Innovative interventions have been implemented in several sectors, and they will play an even bigger role in the future, especially with social innovation, which seemed to be a force to create social change and social impact. Meanwhile, technology has been seen as an obvious representative of innovation, which has been widely used in the private sector, and yet to be seen as great potential in the public sector as well.

Elderly Services and technology:

Due to the expected growth of elderly people with chronic diseases and the associated strain on formal care services, there is a need for new and innovative solutions for supporting informal caregivers (Steffen Torp et al. 2008). One promising approach is using assistant technology in elderly care, due to the advanced development of information and communication technology (ICT). Although technology has been well understood and developed in a variety of disciplines, there is not as much research talking about the natural place of technology in aging and the elderly. Britt Östlund (2004) has suggested that contemporary research should include studying the problems associated with aging as part of its work. Biologists study the physical changes associated with aging, economists study the role of the elderly in social economics, social psychologists study role changes, etc.

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In the beginning:

In the 1990s, the issues of the elderly with technology have been noted in few conferences and later the role of the elderly in the IT society was articulated in a number of policy documents which put the issue on the political agenda and resulted in funding for research and development ((Bangemann, 1994). Researchers argue that the attention to the elderly with technology, on one hand, is because of the growing elderly population and the problems associated with rising as well. On the other hand, is due to the market needs to sell new technology solutions to the elderly and their families. When it comes to technology, the elderly are the most vulnerable group based on our preconception that the elderly is needy and outdated, hence technology is far more than advanced for them. Thus, there are two obvious research perspectives working with the elderly from the technology and non-tech sides.

Two perspectives:

Researchers from the technology background are driven to apply technical knowledge to solve problems or, in some other way, create new possibilities for people (Britt Östlund, 2004). Generally, they develop the technology first and then study how the elderly interact with the technology, in order to test the efficiency and usability of the technology.

In another non-tech group, the key issues are

  • (1) Technology as a tool to solve the elderly’s problems. Dario, Branislav and Damir (2016) conducted a texts analysis that revealed a strong interaction between physical activity, the elderly, and ICT systems. Specifically, technology plays an important role in promoting physical and social activity among elders. It echoes the paper of Regina and Peter (2016) that ICT use was consistently found to affect social support, social connectedness, and social isolation in general positively.
  • (2) Macro-level studies on technology acceptance and costs. Rana Mostaghel (2016) discusses how the elders’ acceptance of innovative technology in their everyday lives is a key factor in the success of governments, technology providers, healthcare providers and other major players in the lives of elders. William and others (2009) conducted a randomized controlled trial and found that their 18-month intervention using home environmental interventions (EIs) and assistive technology (AT) devices showed a significant decline for FIM (Functional Independence Measure) and the institutional and certain in-home personnel costs reduced through a systematic approach to providing AT and EIs.
  • (3) Ethical issue and humanity. Many researchers pointed out that technology should not replace all human contact and connection. In the early time, Michael and Eric (1985) had already warned that we should balance technology and humanity. Eftychios and others (2020) concluded that the technology should be implemented so that users don’t feel their privacy is violated and retain control without compromising efficiency.
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Call for research:

From a micro view, the research and practice on the relationship between innovation and the wellbeing of the elderly would explore the room for innovation in the elderly and their future needs under the conception of success of aging. Meanwhile, it offers a unique glimpse of innovation/technology in the elderly that contributes to the design for the elderly as Britt Östlund (2004) stated that social-science-oriented researchers can make contributions to projects with technical applications. In light of organization and government entities, there are very limited studies on the application of well-grounded and established theories from the fields of innovation and technology management (Kohlbacher & Hang, 2011), so relevant research is a key force in the public organization to be highly innovative and forward-thinking through the lens of elderly services organizations.


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How to meet aging challenges with social innovation?

Given the inherent characteristics of social innovation as an emerging subject, it is necessary to leverage the power of social innovation on elderly services as life expectancy increases, as well as the aging population, along with the challenges and demands. According to the United Nations (2009), the estimated aging rate is 2.6% per year, this trend of aging brings tremendous changes in society. At the same time, so many countries are struggling to manage the increasing number of service requirements for the elderly. Improving elders’ lifestyle quality and increasing the benefits of relevant stakeholders, as well as the public policies that are the cornerstone of social security of many governments.

Elderly services and social innovation

According to the United Nations (2019), there were 703 million people aged 65 years or over in the world in 2019. The number of older people is projected to double to 1.5 billion in 2050. Globally, the share of the population aged 65 years or over increased from 6 percent in 1990 to 9 percent in 2019. The elderly live longer and healthier, and elderly services or eldercare has been shifted dramatically due to demographic change and those services or policies could have fundamental impacts on society as well. Researchers have anticipated those changes and are studying how to meet these upcoming challenges.

Image source: World Health Organization

There are three major areas on elder services and social innovation:

  • (1) Definition and framework. Faridah and Faïz (2006) have proposed a definition of care services for the elderly that draws on the economics of services and provides a simple framework for analyzing innovation in terms of economic categories. Later in 2016, Katrien and Paul made an explicit point of innovation in the elderly care sector and developed a framework to capture innovation and explain the capacity for innovation in the elderly care sector.
  • (2) Innovation strategy in elderly care services. Davies and Ferlie developed measures of efficiency as early as 1982, and then produced scores to measure. They concluded that the most successful approach to the study of the improvement of efficiency through innovation sees such behaviour as largely motivated by the search for external finance. Beate, Endre and Joseph (2016) highlighted that innovation strategies in formal innovation training, workforce recruitment, and knowledge-sharing networks between communities are the current strategic direction based on the eldercare theory.
  • (3) Innovation case study. Researchers used elderly services as a case to find out how innovation is formed and what factors contribute to the success or failure of innovation, the key point here is the relationship between practice-based and human-centric approaches. Ali and Anna (2012) used the case of elderly home care and delivery to suggest that creative action emerges in our bodily expressive-responsive skillful coping mode. The same as Lars Fuglsang (2019), discussed how human-centric service innovation integrates with co-production in public services, defining how a practice-based model treats knowledge and learning, and the advantages of the practice-based model from a managerial, an employee, and a societal perspective.

Public sector innovation is hard, and social innovation provides a specific window of opportunity for future elderly wellbeing and welfare, utilizing innovative interventions. Given that innovations create social value, especially social innovation (Robert and Luis, 2016).


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How can social innovation empower community engagement in data governance?

With the rise of technology, data governance is becoming more and more important, not only for the government itself but also for its people. So how can we ensure data accountability and responsibility that could do good for society? Researchers from different universities of Australia designed a process of engaging citizens with social innovation tools to participate in smart city development and urban data governance projects, hoping to find out the intervention efficiency.

In our human history, the relationship between citizens and the government is always unstable, and the government has more and more power with the help of technology nowadays, so researchers want to find a way to engage urban communities and empower them in terms of data governance. Hence, they developed and tested a participatory methodology to identify approaches to empowering community engagement in data governance.

They used the ‘Design for social innovation‘ process and tools to enable a small group of precinct citizens to co-design prototypes and empower them to support the development of data governance and reveal a diversity of perspectives. The whole process involved two stages, the first stage gives participants a whole view of global city examples of data governance approaches. The second stage consists of a background survey and participatory co-design workshops, which focus on problem identification, prototype, ideation, and rapid development.

Image source: Cambridge University Press

As a result, they found that deliberative spaces for participation can promote inclusive community engagement, also empowering community engagement can raise important issues related to democratic engagement, value creation, and data literacy. Overall, their participatory design approach can empower precinct citizens to engage in complex problems, Although, this research also has its limitations considering the wider impact, feasibility, and generalizability.

Download their paper here: A participatory approach for empowering community engagement in data governance: The Monash Net Zero Precinct | Data & Policy | Cambridge Core


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Social business

EUR 12 million is now open for applications

On 4 Feb 2022, European Innovation Council announced a total of 12 million euros to build the European Innovation Ecosystem, hoping to support a more sustainable, robust, and integrated system that spurs innovation across ecosystems to address important challenges.

total budget of EUR 5 million is open for submission until 10 May 2022, 17:00 CET. This is to support co-designed programs of activities for at least 2 years.

Another budget of EUR 7 million is open for submission until 26 April 2022. This is to support projects that can enlarge the collaboration and impact.

More details: ​​​​​​​New calls open to boost the European Innovation Ecosystem – EUR 12 million available (


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Unveil the mysterious veil of social innovation

Driven by the trend of social innovation as the engagement of citizens and organizations in policy and management practice, the adoption of social innovation has been rapidly spurred in scholarly research, despite its conceptual ambiguity and diversity of definitions and research settings. However, as an increase in social innovation has the potential to alter the structure of innovation systems, corporate identities and strategies, employee motivation, as well as public and private governance (Robert and Luis, 2016), it can dramatically change the organization’s operation and the services, then ultimately deliver social impact.

Researchers and scholars have had a rising interest in social innovation in recent years, but the definition of it still remains debated and yet to be solved. Much of the discussion of social innovation is vague, and there are many competing definitions of social innovation that attempt to delineate a field of study (Jenson and Harrison, 2013).

Image source: Google trend

Up to date, the research literature that focuses on social innovation specifically is limited, albeit growing (Nicholls et al., 2015). The main focus of this study could be listed as follows from 1990 till now:

  • Community psychology: This approach demonstrates how to leverage the power of innovative interaction to achieve social change and solve social problems. Robert and Luis (2016) looked at the community psychology literature discussing the Experimental Social Innovation and Dissemination (ESID) model to promote innovative social and behavioural change. A key issue here for innovation research is how widespread changes manifest in society.
  • Innovation policy: From an economic perspective, innovation policy requires different agents’ adaptation to new innovative demands to capture economic growth. It mainly focuses on the relationship of social innovation and policy implementation, from bottom to up, analyzing the behaviour facing the societal challenges as an innovation driver, together with other stakeholders to build innovative policies. Slavo Radosevic (2020) developed the Innovation Policy Index (IPI) as both a monitoring tool and an instrument to facilitate policy dialogue, programme coordination and promotion of good innovation policy practices.
  • Public sector innovation: Public innovation is more focused on developing innovation model theory and enhancing its ability. Jason and Tim (2010) have proposed a practical model of public sector innovation that is more cognizant of the scientific method of randomized controlled experiments. Later, Hanna, Victor and Lars (2016) developed an empirically based framework of potentially important antecedents and effects of public sector innovation. Moreover, Jacob (2018) suggested that public innovation could be enhanced by multi-actor collaboration.
  • Social challenges: Social innovation as a means of innovative solutions to social problems, so that some research papers focus on public management and cross-sector partnerships (e.g., non-profit collaborations) to ensure its sustainability (Robert and Luis, 2016). Weerawardena and Mort (2012) also show a clear relationship between social entrepreneurship and social innovation.
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The definition of social innovation often applies to innovative practice or intervention with social change and social impact, and yet the relationship between them is undefined, which poses a challenge and opportunity for researchers. Overall, there is no established paradigm of social innovation (Nicholls, 2010). But as simplistic it could be, social innovation is perceived as novel ideas that resolve social problems and meet social needs, finally creating social impact.

In practice, social innovations can take the form of specific ideas, actions, frames, models, systems, processes, services, rules, and regulations as well as new organizational forms (Nicholls et al., 2015). As far as we can see that social innovation relies on innovative ideas, social processes, and social outcomes. Interestingly, according to Daniela Papi Thornton, she claimed that social innovation or social entrepreneurship is beyond generating new ideas and putting them into practice, it is to finally create a social systematic change that relevant stakeholders will benefit and long-lasting change is foreseeable.


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Social business

This company changed the traditional leaf packaging

Leaf packaging is known as using leaves to package products to meet the goals of sustainability and fighting climate change. And nowadays, especially in Asia, there are supermarkets already using the leaf to wrap their products instead of plastic as it is shown below:

Image source: Bord panda

But at another level, this Danish company uses fiber packaging which comes from 100% natural ‘leaves’ such as trees, flowers, fruits, plants and vegetables, that are regenerative materials with no chemicals and will not harm nature. It was designed to fit a product’s lifecycle and is the world´s first and only company manufacturing fiber packaging. It is 100% biodegradable, 100% recyclable, 100% bio-based, 100% renewable and 50% lower in carbon footprint compared to PET.

Image source: LEAF PACKAGING

Leaf Packaging ApS was founded in Denmark in 2019, with a mission to produce packaging with a strict focus on circularity, responsibility, and diversity. Now it is located in Kirke Værløse, north of Copenhagen in Denmark, and each day, they transform 4 tons of fiber into the packaging to meet the demands. Currently, their packaging covers the products of meat, dairy, convenience, confectionary, medico, beauty, household, fast food, etc. At end of 2020, they show positive figures in equity with nearly 11.5 million DKK.

Image source: LEAF PACKAGING


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Where should you look for Social Innovation Master programs?

The adoption of social innovation has been rapidly spurred in scholarly research. With interest and demand growing, here are a few of the best social innovations or related master’s programs to advance your degree and your career path along with it.

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The University of Oxford: The University of Oxford is the oldest educational institution in the world, and its MBA program at the Saïd Business School offers social entrepreneurship courses that cover international social entrepreneurship, strategy & innovation, and design and development. The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School also offers five fully-funded MBA scholarships to individuals invested in social innovation.

University of Pennsylvania: The Wharton School offers an MBA/MSW in the Center for Social Impact Strategy, focused on providing students with the resources they need to bring their innovative ideas for social good to fruition. They educate, inform, and inspire the leaders who are meeting the world’s complex challenges, advancing business practice, and driving economic growth at a global scale.

Stanford University: At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, there’s Center for Social Innovation and Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, to educate the future leaders of social and environmental change. It allows students to approach their area of interest in the social sector with leadership through a social enterprise/business approach.

Harvard University: The Social Enterprise Program at the Harvard Business School offers courses such as Leading Social Enterprise and a Field Course: Social Innovation Lab, which aims to educate, support, and inspire leaders across all sectors to tackle society’s toughest challenges and make a difference in the world.

Yale University: At the Yale School of Management, the Program on Social Enterprise (PSE) provides students with an understanding of how to use their business skills and market knowledge to create social solutions, to harness business skills and markets to achieve social objectives.

London School of Economics and Political Science: Their Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship program aims to develop critical academic views and how to design, launch and scale-up successful entrepreneurial ventures with social goals.

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Except for those world-top social innovation programs, there are still several initiatives that offer Social Innovation Master programs.

Design for Social Innovation: MFA Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in New York is the first MFA program at the intersection of design, social innovation and enterprise. Their two-year program focuses on the application of the design methodologies to solutions for complex human problems, such as poverty, climate change, planetary health, food insecurity, injustice, inequity and human health.

University of San Diego: Their Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies offers MA in social innovation, which gives them skills to develop sustainable, scalable solutions to tackle humanity’s urgent challenges, whether that leads to growing their own social impact startup or leading innovative programs in an established organization.

EDHEC Business School: It is the top 20 business school, and the MSc in Creative Business & Social Innovation will teach students to develop a better understanding of complexity and globalization, also the competency to make a positive impact in the world.

Copenhagen Business School: They offer MSc in Business Administration and Bioentrepreneurship and Innovation in Health Care, besides, they have the Social Entrepreneurship (S-ENT) Research Cluster, which brings together 15 scholars from different departments, to facilitate interdisciplinary related research across the whole of CBS, and enhance the impact of S-ENT research at CBS. 

Roskilde University (RUC): They offer a 2-year Master of innovation, entrepreneurship, intended to produce graduates who can lead social innovation and entrepreneurship processes in socio-economic enterprises, civil society organizations and other organizations that aim to address social (and green) societal challenges at local, national and international levels.

Hope you have found a program that fits you better and please contact us if you know of any that we haven’t listed here. Thanks and good luck!


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When Blockchain meets social innovation

Blockchain is a hot topic now, with its decentralization, open-source, and security characteristics, people believe it could be the next trend to reshape financial systems and alter global power structures. So what could happen when blockchain meets social innovation and creates social impact?

When it comes to cryptocurrency which is associated with blockchain, it is easy to understand that people can donate those currencies directly to some charities and foundations, to make sure the purpose of the transfer. And indeed, there are already some websites that facilitate the donation of cryptocurrencies to good causes.

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Moreover, in the government sector, blockchain can be used to manage records of each government service, to make sure transparency and cut corruption. Also, blockchain technology can be used to buy private services to ensure accountability and efficiency. Regarding the investment sector which is directly related to cryptocurrency, blockchain can help impact investors make use of their money, also entrepreneurs can scale their businesses by measuring the project’s impact.

Blockchain in Action from newamerica

Blockchain can be used in many ways to build the trust we have lost in history, as it’s in the public or private sectors. Importantly, it also helps to nourish innovations that can improve people’s lives. Looking back at our human history, maybe this technology is a key to rebuilding our society.


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