The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) aims to realise a step change in innovation and unlock potential in the UK’s rural economies. It responds to a national strategic need for a visible, accessible and respected source of evidence, knowledge exchange, leadership and enterprise development for rural economies. As a national capability NICRE will (i) Research and evidence the current and future challenges and new opportunities for rural businesses and communities; (ii) Work to overturn barriers to enhanced rural productivity through appropriate policies and support services; (iii) Build the strengths, skills and competencies of rural SMEs and their representative and advisory networks, unlocking innovation via a place-based approach to tackling society’s grand challenges, enabling resilient and sustainable rural economies fit for the 21st century.
NICRE is led by and builds on the internationally recognised expertise, networks and resources of three leading University research centres (Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle, the Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick and the Countryside and Community Research Institute at Gloucestershire/Royal Agricultural University). It will harness a partnership between HEIs, Government departments, professional business service companies, local authorities and enterprise partnerships, businesses organisations, and rural stakeholders and enterprises.
The Centre aims to impact on business practices (improved research and innovation capabilities, new business models and stronger networks), people (capacity building of rural business owners, senior managers and advisors and a wide network of enterprise and rural development practitioners and researchers), policies (stronger evidence based policy design, delivery and support for rural enterprises, linked to the UK Industrial Strategy, post-Brexit rural programmes, and the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities), and places (rural communities equipped to tackle current and future challenges and successfully contribute to national or local economic growth and prosperity). Together these impacts will boost levels of rural innovation, productivity, high quality jobs and community benefits of rural enterprise.
NICRE is a research and knowledge exchange capability that aims to shift the policy narrative about rural economies and unlock their innovation and potential, in England. It has three primary aims and work streams:
- to strengthen and improve access to the research and evidence base of rural challenges and opportunities for businesses and communities. This will be pursued in cross-cutting themes from Productive to Resilient Rural, drawing on domains of existing research excellence among the partnership (Newcastle lead).
- to work with businesses, rural communities and economic development agencies to catalyse place-based demonstration projects to tackle the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges and road-test rural solutions. Rural economies are well placed to drive and benefit from socio-technical change as test beds for innovation, for example more creative responses to ageing populations, harnessing digitalisation for goods, services and people, and realising the value of natural capital for clean growth (Gloucestershire lead).
- to reduce barriers to greater rural productivity and innovation arising from weak policies and support services for rural firms, and by building capacity among rural SMEs via their advisory networks (Warwick lead).
The CCRI’s contribution to the NICRE project is lead by the projects’ co-Director, Professor Janet Dwyer.
The NICRE project is funded by Research England and its founding university partners, and will run for three-years, starting in September 2020.
Project Up-dates and Activities
The University of Gloucestershire is pleased to announce its role in securing £3.8 million from the national research funding agency, Research England, for the creation of a new national centre to support innovation and unlock the potential of rural economies.