Interview with Ana Sepulveda, Managing Partner at 40+Lab

What are your key services at 40+Lab and how does your work relate to tourism in the Algarve?

40+ Lab is a business consultant specialising in the economics of longevity and people over 40. Our focus is to work with our customers to transform their business so that they fully capitalise on the potential of this specific demographic. In a nutshell, we operate in two major strands: in the internal strand of organisations, so that they are age friendly organisations, integrating all generations and making the most of each other's assets; and we operate in the business development aspect. Here we help form strategies to develop a range of products and services specifically dedicated to the economics of longevity.

We have a cross-cutting offer - future scenario design and innovative concepts - and a knowledge centre, the result of our research and our worldwide network. We are currently part of a working group linked to the Portuguese Network of Healthy, Intelligent and Friendly Environments and a working group linked to the University of Faro, whose mission is to make the Algarve an Age Friendly region. This means that we are deeply committed to the development of the longevity economy in the Algarve, and the development of its ‘assets’ in this area – of which tourism is a key element. This work involves coordinating different stakeholders so that the region has a strategy involving people, economic agents and local government in order to prioritise its unique assets with the greatest developmental potential. In this sense our contribution to Algarve tourism is to help deliver an innovative and sustainable vision for the future.

Senior Living and Senior Tourism forms a key theme at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference. How would you assess Portugal's future potential in these areas in light of Europe's ageing population?

The idea of positioning Portugal as the ‘Florida of Europe’ is not new. For many years people have discussed developing the national economy in line with its geo-economic position, taking full advantage of the Atlantic axis. A pillar of this economy is the longevity of its people and what this longevity entails, in terms of their needs and motivations.

This means that Portugal has a number of positive growth characteristics, which are directly related to the potential of both senior living and senior tourism. Proof of this is the increase in the number of new residents, over 50 years of age with strong financial resource. Portugal is a country with good weather, good accessibility and telecommunications coverage. Much of its exports are based on tourism and which, in terms of senior living, have been the target of interest and investment from international funds. Therefore, the potential is large and effective.

However, the supply side requires consistent innovation while simultaneously catering for people's evolving needs and demands. Understanding how demand and society will change and how new investments are distinguished from what already exists will be critical in a scenario of potential overqualification.

How well adapted is the Algarve specifically for the Longevity Economy and how can it improve?

The Algarve is one of 40+Lab’s major tourism regions, if not the main one. It has also been the one that has long attracted foreign tourists. Today it accommodates foreigners from many different nations, but it is still far from being well adapted to the specificities of the longevity economy. It will be necessary to re-explore the territory and consider each city in order - in some cases recovering their original characteristics and appeal. There is also an education process which needs to be undertaken better informing tourism agents of the advantages of senior non-seasonal tourism.

I notice the effort that some municipalities are making towards becoming ‘age-friendly’ municipalities, as well as the work that is being done to make this a reference region in certain areas, for instance Coimbra and Porto, and even in the Centro region. Portugal as a region is starting to focus its attention on the development of the longevity economy. However, I unaware of an inter-municipal strategy that looks at the longevity economy across all its various fronts. If this is not already in place I strongly recommend it.

40+Lab recently launched 'Associação Age Friendly Portugal'. What are the key objectives of this new association?

Associação Age Friendly Portugal was inspired by the Age Friendly Ireland Association, whose work I have been following for many years. The association was set up this September with the purpose of making Portugal an Age Friendly country, and to drive innovation in this area. It is an initiative being led by 40+Lab in association with other national companies and an American firm. We know that the Longevity Economy will be one of the most relevant areas of the world economy in the years to come. We also know that it is critical for Portugal to have a strategy and a growth plan, given the impact of population longevity and still very low birth rates. Age Friendly Portugal aims to become an influencing agent of the national reality, and a provider of strategic and actionable knowledge. It further aims to establish itself as a bridge between several European and world entities that act in the world economic ecosystem of longevity.

What attracted you to this year's Algarve Tourism Conference and why is it valuable to the 40+Lab brand?

40+Lab’s presence at the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference is recognition of our work, know-how and investment in the network of Portuguese-Irish entrepreneurs. The conference will help put our purpose into practice, as we promote sustained and future transformation across the region. In addition, it’s a continuation of our bet on the development of the Algarve as an Age Friendly region - positive and intergenerational.

Our involvement alongside other partners within this community is also a way to raise 40+lab’s profile and broaden our reach from Lisbon. However, while it is a way of giving, it is also a way of receiving. It is very important for us to see and hear from those who are working in the same area as us and / or related areas, in order to be both well aligned and well informed.