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Engaging rural enterprises in our future towns

Engaging rural enterprises in our future towns

23 July 2021

NICRE-funded research

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our interconnected world – from the importance of our local communities to global trade, insecure jobs and our natural environment, writes Dan Phillips, senior research fellow at the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre, Royal College of Art.

We - the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre at the Royal College of Art (RCA) - were successful in obtaining funding from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) to conduct research to explore that challenge, with a particular focus on rural communities, future transport and the success of rural enterprises.

NICRE undertakes and commissions research to fill gaps in current knowledge of rural enterprise and innovation and ours is one of seven projects currently being carried out by academic institutions across England to shine the spotlight on rural enterprise.

Our research - Engaging enterprises: community placemaking and transport planning – aims to help Haltwhistle Partnership, as well as other organisations within the Tyne Valley, better understand entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours around community led place-making and transport planning, in the context of inclusive wellbeing and environmental restoration.

This understanding will be used to develop new ways of engaging with rural entrepreneurs so they might place a greater value on the social, environmental and economic costs of current working practices.

Get involved

We're looking for entrepreneurs and business leaders who are working in, and with, rural communities in the Tyne Valley to take part in this research so we can better understand their philosophy, feelings and knowledge about the future.

Participating would involve completing an online questionnaire and joining two online workshops with four or five other rural entrepreneurs or business leaders (each lasting approximately two hours).

We will use the findings to identify the opportunities and barriers that entrepreneurs see and feel around place-making and transport futures and develop a bespoke framework so that rural enterprises can better engage with the larger systemic challenges in which they operate.

We will visualise the opportunities and challenges through what we call ‘future mobility and place-making maps’ that show how enterprises and towns such as Haltwhistle might change in response.

We’d urge entrepreneurs and business leaders with an interest in the future of our towns and transport to take part.

This proposal builds on the Our Future Towns project carried out by the RCA’s Intelligent Mobility Design Centre in 2020 and is part of NICRE’s ‘engaged rural’ research theme which aims to bring the rural business community closer to government, research and innovation institutions.

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