Rural businesses – The future is now

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Rural areas and rural economies are undergoing massive change. Rural businesses – both farm and non-farm – are having to navigate the future in the face of increasingly competitive and volatile global value chains, climate change, resource depletion, major population shifts, digitisation and rapidly evolving new technologies. In this situation, business as usual is simply not an option.
The future for rural businesses is, and has to be, now. In this spirit, the recent Cork Declaration argues that rural areas have a number of potential advantages which can create the conditions for future rural prosperity and vitality as well as delivering “innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions for current and future societal challenges”.
There is already a very wide range of EU, national and regional initiatives designed to help European businesses to make the most of the challenges and opportunities mentioned above. These include policies for digitisation, smart specialisation and social innovation. This seminar will allow different rural stakeholders to;

  • Examine these and other key policies for business innovation through a rural lens. Participants will be able to share lessons and experience about how support tools can be made “fit for rural business” (in other words, initiate “rural proofing” as recommended by the Cork Declaration)
  • Share inspiring examples of business innovation and explore how such initiatives can be extended in practice through the Rural Development Programmes.

The Rural Development Programmes deploy a powerful combination of measures and tools which can support all kinds of rural businesses. These include an expected 2600 LEADER groups and some 3200 Operational Groups as well as measures for knowledge transfer, advice and a range of investment measures. Participants will explore how RDP support to business innovation can be coordinated and improved - both now and in the future.

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    All relevant information on the conference will be soon available at the conference website: Please direct further inquiries to