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Innovation and ice cream: sharing learning from rural development in the North East

Innovation and ice cream: sharing learning from rural development in the North East

10 November 2021

International visit

It was a pleasure to welcome Dr Anita Bušljeta Tonković from the Ivo Pilar Research Institute in Croatia to Newcastle as part of their RURALIKA project, writes Gary Bosworth, professor of entrepreneurship, Northumbria University. This five-year study seeks to identify new rural development opportunities for the Lika Region of Croatia by learning from other rural exemplars across Europe.

I hosted Anita at our iNCITE Research Centre and we visited members of the NICRE team at their Newcastle University base at the Catalyst to learn more about the approaches they are developing in their research, innovation and business development activities here in the North East. As part of the project, Anita and team are keen to learn how to implement effective initiatives as well as the best indicators to measure their effectiveness. 

To add to the academic research knowledge, Anita and myself also met NICRE director Jeremy Philipson and deputy director Matthew Gorton at Wheelbirks Parlour, a rural business in Northumberland, where owner Hugh Richardson gave us a tour of the farm and dairy before providing samples of their ice cream. Seeing rural development in action and combining knowledge from researchers and entrepreneurs has given Anita a lot of ideas to take back home to Croatia.

As the project develops, the visit identified opportunities for greater collaboration to explore distinctive opportunities for promoting community cohesion, local entrepreneurship and rural and coastal tourism. This unique study in the Lika region also provides a foundation for evaluating the most appropriate indicators for measuring rural social and economic outcomes and exploring the influence of a region’s history on contemporary development processes.

Hopefully Anita will return to update us more on the project at next year’s Rural Entrepreneurship Conference, which will be hosted by Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University.






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