“The ageing of the population is not just a key element of the future. It also opens up innovative prospects for enterprise today.” Bernard
Devy, President of the Organisme Commun des Institutions de Rente et de Prévoyance (Joint Organism for Annuity and Providence
Institutions), gathering over 30 providence bodies, sees today’s demographic trend as an opportunity to be seized. With 15 million people aged over 60 years in France, and the figure estimated at 20 million for 2030, Michèle Delaunay, a physician and former minister for Elderly Persons and Autonomy, in partnership with the Ministry for the Economy, launched the Silver Economy in April 2013.
The grouping’s ambition is to give enterprises the means to imagine, develop and distribute products and services that will boost the autonomy of tomorrow’s elderly generation, in France and elsewhere in the world.
The Silver Economy’s Silver Valley, syndicate and enterprises
The concept of the Silver Economy met with immediate success. Alongside a Silver syndicate, the ASIPAG, and Silver enterprises all
over France, in 2013, a Silver Valley was born from the associative network Soliage, comprising fifty or so enterprises based at an incubator in Ivry-sur-Seine, a suburb to the south of central Paris.
This ecosystem sets its mission as accelerating the development of economic activities meeting the needs and uses of seniors, to
generate growth and employment in the Île-de-France region.
Today, a total of 150 structures representing 1,000 jobs belong to the network. “All sectors working to support the elderly are grouped
together: cars, digital technology, clothing… We distinguish three branches within our entity: enterprises, research and development,
and users,” explains Guillaume Lebreton, Communications Head of this microcosm. “Our role is to subsidise certain projects, via for
example the Île-de-France region or AG2R Reunica. This is how the company Eye Brain managed to develop, in 2010, a type of scanner to detect neurodegenerative diseases on the basis of eye movement, now being industrialised for sale to private clinics for millions of euros.”
Products are proliferating, such as the Mamie Box, the remote-assistance telephone set designed by AssisTel, a French enterprise
that combines the manufacturing of materials with the provision of services. “Thanks to a button on a necklace or bracelet, our 20,000
subscribers, 99 % of them seniors, are linked up to telephone platforms. When they call, they are put in touch with emergency
services, the police or a neighbour, depending on the situation. The typical profile is an 81-year-old woman who has already had a fall
or has lost a husband,” confides Alexis Roche, Head of the company generating 3.5 million euros in turnover every year.
A healthy global network
Silver Valley has thus enabled AssisTel to sell comfortable armchairs, shower grab bars manufactured by the company Herdegen, and to meet collaborators such Vivago, manufacturer of actigraph watches. The network, already duplicated in Quebec with the help of UbiFrance, is continuing to grow and is expected to reach 300 structures in the next three years if the hopes of its managers are anything to go by. “With life expectancy going up by one semester every year, the national statistics provided by INSEE back us up,” specifies Alexis Roche. And with 900 million people aged 60 years or over throughout the world, expect this flourishing new business sector to cross barriers and just keep growing.