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Innovation Projects

Innovation Projects

We're working to release the untapped potential of rural economies.

Big ideas, big potential

Releasing the untapped potential of rural economies is crucial for the future prosperity, wellbeing and resilience of communities across the UK. Finding new ways of doing things, in other words, innovation, is key.

What do we mean by innovation?

Innovation can mean many things:

  • a new product or service
  • a new way of working
  • a change to something that already exists
  • new ideas and thinking

But innovation is more than good ideas. It’s also about how these become used by and benefit places, businesses and communities.

Wind generators turbines and solar panels on sunset.

Our aim at NICRE is to assist you to collectively find suitable innovations that solve problems and realise new opportunities. We do this by:

  • bringing together theory and practice
  • harnessing the expertise and resources of our network partners
  • being open to experimentation and showcasing what works more widely
  • making available resources for local innovation and enterprise projects tackling rural challenge

We also raise awareness of, and signpost to, existing programmes which support innovation such as Arrow at Newcastle University for SMEs in the North East.

Potential areas for innovation

NICRE projects could include a wide range of social, institutional and technical innovation in rural enterprise, such as:

  • improving business models, capabilities and networks
  • enhancing enterprise and innovation support services and delivery
  • strengthening supply chains and logistics or unlocking export potential
  • harnessing the opportunities of an ageing society and the need for clean growth
  • stimulating community enterprise and improved service delivery 
  • decarbonising the rural and demonstrating SME decarbonisation to others
  • promoting a circular economy in rural products including food, hospitality and manufacturing outputs
  • enabling uptake of new technologies or improved use of data
  • connecting rural enterprise and the wider innovation system through new ways of collaborating
  • harnessing mobility and digitalisation for goods, services and people
  • realising the value of natural capital and ecosystem management

Starting local, thinking big

Although it's early days, we are already experimenting with exciting ways to facilitate and catalyse rural innovation. Below are some examples.

NICRE can provide much of the research, knowledge transfer and support for businesses, and exemplars that are needed to help our economy reach its potential.