8 new SMEs join Sunderland and Northern Ireland Testbeds

In 2021, Connected Places Catapult launched the Homes for Healthy Ageing programme to explore solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our ageing population, with the aim of enabling people to live longer and healthier lives in their homes. We have committed to delivering 5 testbeds across the UK to help local leaders and SMEs test, develop and showcase innovations to overcome their healthy ageing challenges in homes and place. Since then, we have developed the first 2 testbeds with partners in Sunderland and Northern Ireland and will be launching the next 3 testbeds in the coming months.

Our Sunderland and Northern Ireland testbeds are focusing on the challenges of Cold and Damp Homes, and Social Isolation and Loneliness. In December 2021, we announced the first cohort of SMEs who joined the programme and will be working to test and develop their innovative products and services in real-life contexts.

We are excited to announce 8 new SMEs across the construction, technology, robotics, and health and wellness industries, who will also be participating in our Sunderland and Northern Ireland testbeds.

Sunderland Testbed

Challenge: Cold and Damp Homes

  • AirEx – AirEx is a construction and climate tech company with a mission to tackle fuel poverty and climate change through novel, cost-effective smart home solutions. The AirEx Roomvent is a smart passive ventilation system designed for the domestic retrofit market. It includes sensors which detect temperature, humidity and air quality and combines this with external weather data to optimise ventilation to prevent damp and mould while managing the thermal performance of the home.
  • HausBots – HausBots’ mission is to use technology to protect and maintain the built environment. They are looking to test their HB1 Wall Climbing Robot, used for the application of waterproof paint to protect against damp and rain by improving the thermal resistance of masonry.
  • Gardarica – Gardarica provides unique solutions in eco-friendly design, landscape architecture and water management. The Gardarica Green System is a solution created to fix the problem of cold and damp housing. The system consists of 3 main parts: green indoor walls, Gardarica insulation system and Gardarica rooftop gardens.
Northern Ireland

Challenge: Social Isolation and Loneliness

  • Civic Dollars – Civic Dollars a community currency app that encourages users to be more active by incentivising activity. The platform works by issuing a Civic Dollar for every 30 minutes a user spends in a park designated as an earn zone. The users can use their Civic Dollars for rewards to improve their lifestyle or donate them to a local community organisation.
  • Living in Fitness – Living in Fitness is an award-winning health and fitness service helping older adults maintain their independence and quality of life through exercise. They provide offline and online live classes and on demand content for the over 60’s.
  • Companiions – The Companiions platform provides a simple, trusted way for people to arrange in-person, on-demand support, assistance and company for themselves or their loved ones from a pool of local, trusted, and vetted companions.
  • Storii – Storii seeks to reduce social isolation and preserve life stories with simple technology. The platform helps people to build life stories and connect with loved ones in a practical way that is effective across generations.
  • Wanatok – Wanatok is a tech for good app with the simple aim of bringing people together in person to talk in real-time, in their current location. The platform aims to have a positive impact on older adults’ lives by helping them meet people, thereby reducing feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Next steps

Over the coming months, Connected Places Catapult and our location partners will work with the SMEs to develop and refine their experiment plans, as well as offering support around engagement with end-users, experiment deployment, evaluation, and showcase plans. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) will also offer 1-1 support to interested SMEs, to advise on matters such as data collection, privacy, and consent. If you would like to learn more about the Homes for Healthy Ageing programme, get in touch at