AAL Forum 2019 Blog

16
Mar

Experience: winning the AAL Award

The AAL Award is one of the main highlights of the forum, in which three projects present their goals and business case in front of a panel of judges and the audience. The award is intended to recognise the most promising project of the AAL Programme. The winner must show that it demonstrates great promise in terms of innovation, a human-centric approach to development, and excellent market potential.

The format of the award is conceived in an effort to enable the project’s coordinator and consortium to work with a more market-oriented attitude. The final contest is inspired to the style of the “Dragon’s Den” where each project pitches to convince the panel of evaluators and the audience.

Each presenter has five minutes to explain the level of innovation – in terms of novelty of concept; approach to the development of the solution from both technological and social perspectives; the level and quality of end-user integration and potential to improve the quality of life for older adults, their families, carers and significant others; and the market potential for the project – based on the analysis and understanding of the current and future AAL market trends as well as competition.

Here we hear from Ilse Bierhoff, a member of the VictoryaHome project, which last year won the Judge’s Choice award and the €5,000 at stake.

What was the AAL Award process prior to the main event at the forum like? 

It was clear and organised. We understood what was required of us at each step and felt well informed.

How did you find the experience of presenting your product at the forum?

The experience was positive and rewarding.  It was challenging to present the project in a few minutes but it forced us to focus on the key features and unique aspects of the project.

Do you feel that participating in the award has helped you?

It was and continues to be very helpful in terms of visibility and credibility, both inside and outside the EU.

How is VictoryaHome going now?

The project overall is going well. We are now in the final stages of the project. In 2016 all lessons learned on implementing AAL services (e.g. user experience, organisational perspective and business plan) in a real life setting were analysed, captured in deliverables and disseminated on a national and EU-level via various means. In order to build on the momentum and to move forward to reach critical mass we plan to create a tech-forum website that supports these physical events but also allow for its amplification and continuation afterwards. Furthermore the user centred design cycle will be completed by hand-over of recommendations for system improvements and the delivery of the final VictoryaHome system.

Unfortunately our partner Giraff Technologies was forced into bankruptcy by one of its Swedish creditors and no longer exists. This is perhaps the ultimate example of an AAL company that enjoyed the visibility, technology development and financing of AAL and other EU projects, but has not been able to attract the venture capital funding necessary to exist and grow as a business. This highlights one of the biggest challenges for SMEs in this domain and will be an important topic for the upcoming years for the AAL community.

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You can download images of the Award from here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aal_forum/albums/72157657317603013