Zinc: Improving the Quality of Later Life- how and where to innovate

Zinc was created in 2017, founded by Paul Kirby, Ella Goldner, Saul Klein and Julia Black, with the aim of testing different ways to tackle society’s most important problems.

The team set out to:

  • Unlock the impact of the frustrated talent that wants to solve these problems;
  • Mobilise an ecosystem around missions to find problem-led solutions, uninhibited by sectoral or disciplinary boundaries;
  • Build commercial products and services that consumers and businesses want to solve their own problems;
  • Create a new approach to social science-based innovation for early stage businesses.

Over the last three years, they have taken on three missions, one of which, close to our hearts, is adding more years of high quality to later life. They have run a venture-builder programme in each of these three missions. 

We met the team at Zinc when we were finalising our new strategic framework and priorities. So much of what they told us about the Zinc journey resonated, not least because two of the key characteristics of our new framework are around encouraging multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving and working across sectoral and organisational boundaries. We particularly want to encourage academic and clinical researchers to collaborate with the emerging band of passionate and entrepreneurial community leaders around the country who believe that creating a healthier later life for us all is one of the most important challenges we face as a society. But we know that addressing the challenges that come with cross-disciplinary and cross-boundary working will continue to be messy and difficult and so we agreed to support Zinc in gathering together and reporting the experiences and stories of those who have sought to meet these challenges head-on. We’re aiming to publish the report by the end of this year.