29 Jan 2015 |
Research article |
Entrepreneurship & Management
“Matière Grise”: A Silver Economy Project for Quebec
What does the future hold for today’s seniors and the rest of us as we age? Communautique “Matière Grise” project is looking to answer this very question.
An aging planet
In 2050, there will be more than 9.6 billion people on the planet, according to the latest world population prospects report published by the United Nations (UN) on June 13, 2013. By then, the number of people of people over 60 will have tripled, totally 2 million and accounting for 21 percent of the global population. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has indicated that the population is ageing in all of its member countries.
The Silver Economy
According to the Financial Times, aging populations present significant challenges to governments and healthcare services alike. But for businesses, the trend is creating a growing and potentially lucrative market, dubbed the “silver economy.” In fact, the Financial Times devoted a series of 34 articles to the topic. Numerous countries, including Japan, the United States and France are currently brainstorming on effective ways to bring and derive value from the lives of senior citizens. In September 2012, the OECD, in collaboration with Asia-Pacific Economic Coorperation (APEC) and WASEDA University in Japan, ran a workshop to analyze how countries can promote innovation on seniors’ health, well-being, education, recreation and urban development.
The situation in Canada
Canada’s current population is 35.5 million, but it is expected to reach 42.5 million by 2056, according to Statistics Canada. In the same timeframe, the number of seniors in the country is projected to reach 11 million, which would be 25.7% of the total population, a higher proportion than the 21% projected for the world overall. Canada’s first Silver Economy Summit was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2010, followed by a second edition in 2013. Nova Scotia is currently home to the highest number of people over 65.
As the French government’s General Office of the Commissioner on Strategy and Prospects (CGSP for Commissariat général à la stratégie et à la prospective) has pointed out, “The issues surrounding the silver economy are not limited to old age and the loss of autonomy. Young seniors constitute a new population segment whose behaviours, desires, needs and social role are often left out of considerations.” (CGSP, 2013)
The “Matière Grise” project
In Quebec, Communautique and Montreal’s “Quartier de l’Innovation” (QI) have launched a major project called “Matière Grise”. Through the project, socio-economic partners are encouraged to consider our aging population as an opportunity to create value and innovative solutions. Moreover, the project provides these partners with opportunities to conduct research, experiments, and social and commercial development activities.
Aiming to resolve social problems, the “Matière Grise” project employs a systemic approach that positions health as an ecosystem that could benefit significantly from numerical methods and artificial intelligence.
In fact, the primary objective of the “Matière Grise” project is to set up this innovative health ecosystem around the needs expressed by and for seniors and the segment’s various stakeholders. This involves adapting the experimental Silver Normandie project, which has already led to the development of socio-economic capabilities of the Innovation District/Montreal/Quebec/Canada.
Strategic Gain for “Matière Grise”
The project’s strategy to “resolve social problems” promotes gains in four areas: human capital, technical capital, intellectual capital and social capital.
- Human capital gains involve empowering citizens and strengthening community engagement and the ability of individuals to adapt to a changing environment;
- Technical capital is associated with new specialized services and infrastructure;
- Intellectual capital revolves around skill development and program improvements;
- Social capital relates to social cohesion, cooperation and trusting relationships.
Phases of the “Matière Grise” project
The Communautique team is currently working on the “Matière Grise” presentation, while seeking financing and partnerships for the project, which has been broken down into five phases:
PHASE 1 — Ideation, concept development, planning, preliminary studies and identification of stakes;
PHASE 2 — Organization, coordination, logistics and facilitation of project development activities;
PHASE 3 — Developing the ecosystem in the Innovation District;
PHASE 4 — Developing the implementation strategy for the Dow Planetarium’s Maison de l’Innovation;