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Entrepreneurial opportunities in the Silver Economy in rural regions

By Platform
Older woman talking to two men

Europe’s population – this goes also for the USA, China, and most developed countries - is ageing as a result of falling birth rates and higher life expectancy. It is expected that by 2060, one in three Europeans will be over 65. This will bring a number of challenges but also represents an important economic opportunity for Europe’s businesses.


The Silver Economy

is a report commissioned by the European Commission on policymakers that work throughout Europe on tackling the societal challenge of an ageing population.

From an initial focus on maintaining public spending on health and care and pensions sustainable in the short and long term, the understanding of the silver economy has been “extended and increased the challenge of an ageing population is being tackled more comprehensively as an opportunity, involving technologies and social innovations, and identifying cross-cutting solutions to improve the general health and wellbeing of the older adults.

There has also been a greater recognition that while the Silver Economy represents private and public consumption that serves the needs of older people, many indirect and induced effects provide opportunities for both the older and younger generations.”

Besides healthcare, the Silver Economy offers new opportunities as well for a wide range of subsectors, such as silver tourism, development of ICT Apps, Internet of Things, transport, shopping, cleaning, housing, etc.

The Interreg Europe project SILVER SMEs addresses those opportunities and aims to improve the implementation and delivery of regional policies for SMEs' competitiveness, thus creating new jobs in the above-mentioned sectors.

Action plan for the province of Burgos (Spain)

The elaboration of the Action Plan for the province of Burgos was led by the Society for the development of the province of Burgos (SODEBUR), a public entity depending on the Provincial Government of Burgos.

It was developed in parallel and integrated within the policy instrument “Strategic Plan for the province of Burgos (PEBUR2025)”, of which SODEBUR is the Managing Authority.

The Action Plan, inspired by the insights and good practices examples from the SILVER SMEs project partners, addresses the need to take advantage of the great potential of the silver economy sector as a means of promoting the establishment of new companies, with a specific focus on rural areas. It includes the following complementary actions:

Action plan for the province of Burgos

This action concerns the detection of business/entrepreneurship opportunities in the silver economy sector, complemented with a methodology of accompaniment to potential rural entrepreneurs (advice/support), together with access to financing (Action 2) to promote the establishment of new companies operating in the rural areas of the province of Burgos.

Thanks to this action, it is foreseen to develop a complete strategy to support rural entrepreneurs.

This action concerns the development and launching of a new funding line to support companies and entrepreneurs operating in the rural areas of the province of Burgos working in the silver economy sector (new or existing ones).

Both actions build mainly on the good practice Social Entrepreneurship Programme in Aragon, which was identified during the project in the framework of a broad exercise of collection and validation of relevant practices. The practice is a good example of a programme with high replication value in rural areas and areas where there are challenges related to depopulation or population ageing. Action 2 also relates to the French good practice Silver Surfer 4.0.

While the implementation of the Action Plan is coordinated by SODEBUR, it involves numerous local stakeholders such as:

  • The Institute for Business Competitiveness (Regional Government of Castilla y León),
  • Burgos Business Innovation Centre (CEEI Burgos),
  • Burgos Young entrepreneurs Association (AJE Burgos),
  • Burgos Chamber of Commerce,
  • Burgos Business Association (FAE Burgos),
  • Local action groups.

Beatriz Garcia Val (SODEBUR) presented recently (October 2022) the implementation status of the Action Plan at a SILVER SMEs partner meeting:

Within Action 1, three feasibility studies aiming at identifying entrepreneurial opportunities in the following sectors have been completed:

  • Telecare: connected health and care solutions to help elderly people with chronic diseases and other vulnerable groups, as well as the people aiming to live in the calmest, safest and most independent possible way and with the best quality of life in their own home.
  • Home care services: personal care at home, as well as help in activities of the daily live for the elderly population, who requires some kind of assistance in their homes due to age, illness, or other physical/mental reasons; or simply because this service is not being offered in their municipalities. Examples are hairdressing, grooming, etc.
  • Home shopping services: purchases’ delivery from different shops as well as the preparation of cooked dishes to be dispatched to the customer's home. Supplying hygiene products and medicines are also considered.

Within Action 2, the first call for proposal for the new funding line has been launched in May 2022, for a total budget of EUR 150.000 non-refundable subsidies. Beneficiaries are entrepreneurs, self-employees and private companies operating in at least 4 municipalities of the province. The call was a success and generated numerous applications.

On 24 November 2022, the SODEBUR Board of Directors finally proposed for funding 30 out of 79 submitted applications. The beneficiaries are now implementing their planned investments and will report in mid-March 2023. Beneficiaries financing under the line of services will receive in a few weeks a direct transfer of 3,000 or 6,000€ - depending on the number of municipalities where their jobs are developed - at the time that beneficiaries within the line of investment are required to report until mid-March 2023.

The development and implementation of the Action Plan for the province of Burgos in the SILVER SMEs project illustrate how transnational policy collaboration can contribute to improving significantly the capacity of regional policy instruments.

To find out more about the concrete actions carried out in the Province of Burgos and in the 7 other rural and mountainous territories of the project, join the SILVER SMEs final conference on 21 February 2023 in Brussels!

Silver economy
Action plan