According to a 2012 United Nations report*, Hong Kong is predicted to be the country with the fourth oldest population in 2050. Hong Kong is at the threshold of a large demographic shift as the generation of baby boomers begins to retire. The number of older adults will increase to 25% of the city’s total population in less than two decades’ time. Therefore, our ageing society will encounter more of the challenges associated with older adults, such as poor health, disability, and increased dependency. However, we must not forget that an ageing society presents new opportunities, including the potential for more knowledge and wisdom transfer as well as more potential consumers that form an often neglected but expanding pool of older human capital.

The Institute of Active Ageing (IAA), hosted by the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), views Hong Kong’s large, gradual demographic change as an excellent opportunity to support the city’s development into a society that is better equipped to meet the needs and potential of its ageing population. PolyU is an application-oriented tertiary education institution with a long tradition of emphasising the application of innovative research and practices for the betterment of society. Therefore, the university’s proactive stance through the IAA to promote the notion of active ageing and embrace the opportunities and challenges posed by an ageing society through interdisciplinary research, education, and practice is timely.

The IAA, which has been in operation since July 2010, is committed to research excellence and innovation in the key areas of ageing, interdisciplinary education related to gerontology, and evidence-based practices for the promotion of active ageing. We adopt a unique and comprehensive model in the promotion of active ageing by including knowledge from all fundamental dimensions of everyday life for older adults.

The IAA brings together scholars, researchers, and practitioners from 23 disciplines across PolyU under the broad categories of health and human services, finance and business, policy and management, design, engineering and technology, environmental sciences and biotechnology, textiles and clothing, and leisure and recreation to create synergistic opportunities for innovating cutting-edge research on ageing and interdisciplinary educational programmes related to gerontology. We believe in engaging professionals in all private and public sectors, the public, and older adults to collaborate in the city’s evolution towards active ageing.

The IAA will continue to form partnerships with different stakeholders, including different industries, nongovernmental organisations, professional bodies, and academic and research institutions overseas. We will also continue to expand our efforts by using practice as the basis of further empowering actively ageing adults to engage with the rest of society and their own health and well-being, especially in areas related to education and research development.

*United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision, Highlights and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.228. (http://esa.un.org/wpp/documentation/pdf/wpp2012_highlights.pdf).