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The EU 2020 Strategy calls for citizens in our ageing society to live actively and independently for longer and to continue contributing to society and to the economy … the Silver Economy as it has become known.

The Silver Economy can be defined as the economic opportunities arising from the public and consumer expenditure related to population ageing and the specific needs of those over 50.

The SilverSMEs project, funded by Interreg Europe, has nine partners from: Ireland (MTU), Spain (lead partner), France, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia and Poland. The duration of the two-phase project, launched in June 2018, is 5 years.

The official Silver SMEs Leaflet is available here.

The Southern Region (Ireland) - Final SWOT Report is available here.

The SilverSMEs Composite SWOT Analysis is available here.

SilverSMEs published its first video about the project and it was filmed during the partners' visit to Lille, on 29, 30 January 2019. The video aims to present the objectives of the project and the challenges for SMEs working in the silver economy sector. To view the video, please click here.


Silver SMEs Objective

SilverSMEs wishes to improve the implementation of Regional Policies for SMEs competitiveness by taking better advantage of opportunities derived from the Silver Economy.



Importantly, by supporting the development of new SMEs in the Silver Economy, an intrinsic objective is to generate services and goods that will contribute to improve the quality of life within an ageing society, in particular in rural or remote EU areas.

SilverSMEs particularly aims to address some of the EU 2020 objectives such as:

  • increasing the employment rate of the population aged 20 to 64 through the development of SME’s and entrepreneurship initiatives;
  • Increasing combined Public Private Partnership (PPP) investment in R&D, in particular based on the development of e-health and e-care solutions, and
  • by tackling the issue of the needs of older adults, Silver should also reduce the risk of social exclusion, in particular for older adults living in rural  areas.

There are pressing demographic reasons, due to an ageing economy, to develop more sustainable means of supporting independent living in older people. This presents a series of new opportunities for SME’s to engage in innovation directed at this sector. As one of the nine project partners, MTU’s Hincks Centre carried out the Composite SWOT Analysis and contributed to the identification of Good Practices (GPs) as well as bringing our academic knowledge to facilitate the trilateral peer review process.


Silver SMEs Project

The first Irish Stakeholders Meeting took place in CIT (now MTU) on November 30, 2018.

Silver SMEs was featured in the Irish Examiner on October 29, 2018. To read the full article, titled €5.7tn ‘silver economy’ SME boon, please click here.

In February 2019, the Hincks Centre produced the first deliverable of the Silver SMEs project - a Composite SWOT analysis of all Partner territories (See link above to view/download the SWOT Analysis).

The work package lead, Munster Technological University co-ordinated the findings of the individual SWOT studies for the partners. This culminated in the composite SWOT report and was ratified at the partner meeting in Lille, France on January 29th, 2019. Each territory has significant peripheral, rural, mountainous or coastal regions, which is a key focus of the project.

The report incorporates insights from four sectors: SMEs, universities and research institutions, civil partners/society and policy makers, which provides a transnational overview of the Silver Economy.

A positive strength identified across all of the EU territories is that there are many SMEs and research organisations with good potential to collaborate. A key weakness identified is the failure by all four sectors to recognise and target the purchasing power of older adults as a market segment. Furthermore, SMEs are not focussed on the Silver economy and this was also reported as an opportunity. All partners identified the growing threats associated with an ageing population, adverse dependency ratios and insufficient numbers in the workforce. The report produced 11 recommendations, which will inform policy and the action plan, a future deliverable of this project.

During the first phase of the project, the partners submitted over 70 Good practices. The submitted GPs were then Peer reviewed and 23 Best practices were selected. The selection criteria was quite stringent. Not alone did a GP have to be of benefit to one of the project's 3 target groups (Active, Dependent, Vulnerable) it also had to satisfy Interreg requirements. The Hincks Centre were delighted that 5 of their 7 submitted GPs were selected. In February 2021, 3 thematic brochures 'Collection of Best Practices from Rural and Mountainous Areas' were released. (Click on the titles to view the pdf).


Silver SMEs Project news

Keep up to date with project developments, activities and events. Below are links to the Silver SMEs articles as seen in the News section of our website.

  • Spreading the Word - Hincks presents SilverSMEs project to Cork County Council. 4 February, 2019.
  • Read All About It ..... SilverSMEs Project Partner Meeting and Conference Make the Headlines. 28 February, 2020.

  • Silver SMEs Project - Good news revealed at penultimate Stakeholder Meeting. 10 December, 2020.

  • Save the Date! - Silver SMEs project Mid-Term Conference. 17 February, 2021.



Useful Links

The following are links to portals and websites which relate to Active Ageing and the Silver Economy:


Partner Locations



The Provincial Government of Teruel, Spain is the lead partner of the project with partners from:

  • Munster Technological University (Hincks Centre for Entrepreneurship Excellence), Cork, Ireland;
  • Region Dalarna – The Regional Development Council of Dalarna County, Sweden;
  • Regional Development Agency - JCS, Poland;
  • Intermunicipal Community CIM Ave, Portugal;
  • Soča Valley Development Centre, Slovenia;
  • Society for the Development of the Province of Burgos (SODEBUR), Spain;
  • Eurasanté, France;
  • Euromontana the European Association of Mountain Areas, France.


Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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