Centre for Rural Economy

Staff Profile

Dr Paul Cowie

Faculty Research Fellow


I am currently a Faculty Research Fellow working in the Center for Rural Economy. My research interests are into rural innovation and entrepreneurship particularly in the non-traditional economic sectors. 

I am also interested in the use of theater as research and engagement method. For the past 3 years I have been collaborating with a theater company to develop a play which engages communities in planning and development. 

External Roles

Member Department for Transport, Oversight Group for Research into Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

Research Fellow: Future Cities Catapult 2017 - 2018

External Reviewer: Scottish Government Strategic Research Program 2016 - 2021

Secretary of State Appointed Member of Northumberland National Park 2000 - 2017


Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement - RTPI Research Excellence Awards 2015 


Current research interests

The impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution in rural areas

Creative practice as a method to co-produce research

Innovation and rural development 

Current Projects

Rural England: Local perspectives on Community and Economy 

 A large scale mixed method research project to investigate the lived experience of rural communities.  8 rural communities will be taken as case study areas and a detailed investigation of the social, cultural and economic aspects of everyday life will be undertaken.  The project is sponsored by DEFRA and will feed into long term rural policy development.

National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise 

This is a new research centre funded by Research England. My role as Innovation Manager is to lead on the living lab projects based here in the North East.  NICRE brings together businesses, local and regional governance, communities and academics to tackle complex real world rural problems. 

The Town Meeting

This ESRC/Arts England funded project explores how theater can be used as a research tool. The Town Meeting uses theater to explore how communities interact with the planning process. This contributes both to development of public understanding of the planning process and allows communities to co-produce research which informs future planning policy.  The Town Meeting was developed in collaboration with Cap-a-pie Theater Company.

Future of work and its impact on the future of rural workspace

Research project commissioned by Gateshead Council to consider the impact new ways of working, particularly digitalisation and automation, will have on the demand for workspace in rural Gateshead

Previous Projects

Brexit – the implications for Northumberland and the rural North of England

RTPI SPIRe - Success and innovation in planning

ESRC/Future Cities Catapult Mid-career Fellowship

ESPON LOCATE (Territories and low-carbon economy) 

ARCH (Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons)

ESPON TANGO (New approached to Territorial Governance)

Newcastle City Futures - http://www.newcastlecityfutures.org/ 

Postgraduate Research Supervision

I welcome applications from potential doctoral candidates who are interested in rural innovation,  rural entrepreneurship and creative research methods.

Current PhD Candidates

Ian Merell, Rural Enterprise Hubs, ESRC Studentship (current)