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From conversations about longevity to deploying wellness policies on a global scale, this year’s Global Wellness Summit was optimistic about the future of health and wellbeing.

GWI introduces a wellness policy for all

Photography by Anna Shvets, Russia

Israel proudly hosted this year’s Global Wellness Summit, and rightly so, as it celebrated a record-breaking £21.8bn ($25bn, €24.9bn) year for its tech sector. The country is predominantly known for innovations in security and fintech, but it also has a reputation for health tech. This year alone, 130 start-ups are focused on women, most of which are in health and wellness.

Israel has developed a strong eco-system for innovation, while also advocating for systemic change and action. It believes the public and private sectors should be working together, and is why Israel’s largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, is collaborating with the UAE’s APEX National Investment on tech-driven healthcare solutions.

Systemic change and policy action was also front of mind for the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) team this year. At the summit, the organisation’s research fellowship unveiled its new report: Defining Wellness Policy. The report moves away from the non-profit organisation’s conventional industry overview and instead presents a compelling case for why wellness policy is essential for governments and businesses. It aims to build a common language and framework around three key areas – wellness efficacy: is all of this spending making people well?; wellness equity and justice: is wellness a right or a privilege?; and wellness of people and planet: can we be well if the planet is not well?

Following the launch of this report, GWI will release a series of toolkits that address seven domains of wellness: physical activity, healthy eating, mental wellness, traditional and complementary medicine, wellness in the built environment, wellness at work, and wellness in tourism.

Strategic opportunity

Governments, institutions, brands and businesses should not be siloed, but should adopt a collaborative, cooperative and collectivist approach to achieve the goal of wellness for all. Consider how to work with public, private, non-profit and community stakeholders

The latest innovations in a growing wellness industry

My Circadian Day by Timeshifter, US My Circadian Day by Timeshifter, US
Photography by Westend61, Germany Photography by Westend61, Germany

With over 400 delegates from 50 countries in attendance, some companies chose to use the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) stage as a launch pad, announcing new products, services and business ventures. One of the key launches came from British media studio BBC StoryWorks, which unveiled its latest content series, In Pursuit of Wellness. Described by one reviewer as an ‘open university of holistic consciousness’, the series explores the multi-faceted wellness industry through a selection of films and articles, all of which follow authentic characters in real-life scenarios experimenting with modern wellness techniques and tools.

Digital brands were also claiming the limelight. Timeshifter, a leader in circadian technology and best known for its Jet Lag and Shift Work apps, announced a new venture, My Circadian Day. Launching for guests at Six Senses resorts this year and to the public in 2023, the new iteration provides people with a personalised daily plan based on their unique circadian biology. It advises when they should prioritise and avoid light, what types of food to eat and when, when to exercise and at what intensity level, and when to use caffeine and when to avoid it. Elsewhere, Alike Health is using digital technology to connect people to those who are experiencing a similar medical journey. Users can compare conditions, medications, procedures and offer advice, hacks and suggestions for treatments.

The food-as-medicine movement, an often-quieter branch of wellness, was on display this year at GWS. Dan Buettner, American best-selling author and National Geographic Fellow, took the audience through his latest research into Blue Zones, the global hotspots where people live the longest and healthiest lives, including Sardinia in Italy and Nicoya in Costa Rica. He also talked about his latest cookbook and challenge plan, as well as announcing its first flagship location which offers longevity medicine based on his Blue Zone research.

Strategic opportunity

The breadth of innovations showcased at GWS is a patent reminder of the size of the wellness industry. Even if your brand or business is not directly positioned in the sector, think about how wellness could intersect with parts of your organisation – there are opportunities in everything from HR to brand communications

Industry leaders highlight key opportunities for wellness business

From industry veterans to early adopters, there is a place for everyone at the Global Wellness Summit. This year, the event held over 70 keynotes, discussions and experiences, including 15 from Israeli innovators. Femtech was a recurring topic that various delegates spoke passionately about. Both Aradhana Khowala of Aptamind Partners and Sharon Handelman-Gotlib of Sompo Digital Lab highlighted potential opportunities for those considering the women’s wellbeing market. The health problems women are facing versus the amount spent on public funding and research are currently misaligned, leaving a huge gap for private businesses to fill; hence, the femtech market value size of some £48.1bn ($55.1bn, €54.8bn) (source: Precedence Research/Statista).

The agenda was also highly inclusive of those in medical and scientific professions, demonstrating the value of The Expert Economy. Attendees heard from Tzipora Strauss of Sheba Medical Center about the launch of the world’s first hospital-based longevity department, and Shai Efrati of Shamir Medical Center on how to preserve your biological age using hyperbaric medicine, a technique which has been successful in improving cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s.

While some speakers focused on personal health and wellbeing, others explored spatial and environmental wellness through topics such as architecture, interiors, tourism and hospitality. Cathy Feliciano-Chon provided an update on Finn Partners’ research for the wellness tourism industry in 2022 and beyond. Soft adventure, which includes pursuits such as hiking, walking and biking, was one of the top reasons for people travelling this year. And while people are prioritising being active over activity, it is no surprise that Cusco City in Peru was ranked the number one destination by the firm due to its hiking trails.

Photography by Darlene Alderson

Strategic opportunity

Consumers’ needs are constantly changing due to the nature of today’s world, but it’s important to distinguish between short-term desires and long-term needs. Focus on the opportunities that are rooted in reason and rationality, not spontaneous cravings

Stat: The global wellness industry is predicted to nearly double by 2025

Photography by Anna Shvets, Russia Photography by Anna Shvets, Russia

The GWI conducts global research on the wellness industry and updates the figures every 2–3 years. Its most recent findings value the global wellness economy at £3.8 trillion ($4.4 trillion, €4.4 trillion), but the figure is predicted to reach £6.1 trillion ($7 trillion, €6.9 trillion) by 2025, nearly doubling in size (source: Global Wellness Institute).

Despite the size of the wellness economy, there are still health disparities between different countries and regions. Among the £3.8 trillion ($4.4 trillion, €4.4 trillion) of spending in 2020, 68% was concentrated in the countries designated as ‘high-income’ by the World Bank, 26% in ‘upper-middle-income countries’, and only 6% in ‘lower-middle’ and ‘low-income’ countries. According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Defining Wellness Policy report, there is a strong positive correlation between wellness spending (measured by wellness economy per capita) and consumer wealth (measured by GDP per capita).

In addition to the evident health gap, the organisation also suggests that economic inequity is slowing progress towards a healthier world. Some 74% of all deaths globally are a result of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are considered preventable (source: World Health Organization). Despite this, GWI estimates that only about 4% of annual global health expenditure is on prevention, risk reduction and public health.

Strategic opportunity

Health ownership is front and centre as attitudes shift from curative to preventative in a post-pandemic world. Brands, businesses and governments must ensure there are accessible tools and resources for consumers to be able to engage in preventative measures

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