Start-ups and the Silver Surfers

Sam Salisbury

By Sam Salisbury
Investment Principal, Centrica Innovations

Sam Salisbury, Investment Principal, Centrica Innovations, talks about active ageing in this blog.

There used to be a time, not too long ago really, when we would raise an eyebrow in surprise at ‘silver surfers’ using an iPad to send emails, search the internet or buy their shopping online.

I think it’s fair to say that time has now passed – in fact, in many ways the older generations are leading the way in embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution and connected technology, having seen the benefit these developments can bring in independent living and a better quality of life.

Research which we have published alongside Ipsos MORI today shows a strong appetite among over-60s for smart home technology – 17% already own a device, and more than a fifth are thinking about buying one. Unfortunately, the research also appeared to show that this group – which has so much to gain from IoT – is being overlooked by the same companies which produce and market this tech.

That’s why today, we’re launching a worldwide call for the start-up community to drive energy technology innovation that helps people thrive as they grow older. The £100,000 Active Ageing Challenge fund will back new companies working in the energy space and help their ideas become a reality for older generations.

We know from experience how much of an impact the creativity and drive of start-ups can bring to the energy sector. Our Ignite programme, an investment fund with a focus on energy and the social impact energy companies can have, has supported entrepreneurs behind 12 small businesses across the country. Together, we’ve offered products and services benefiting more than 25,000 people across the UK.

The key to the Ignite programme’s success has been the marriage of the entrepreneurial spirit of the start-ups we’ve worked with and the skills and expertise we have right across Centrica’s 35,000-strong team worldwide. I can’t wait to meet the minds behind the next big ideas in energy tech, and replicate that success – this time with a focus on the Silver Surfers looking to use their tablet to do more than just check their emails.