About us

Our progress

  • Providing policy, business and rural stakeholders with national insight into rural businesses’ experiences of infrastructure quality and networks and their response to Covid-19. 

  • Commissioning research from a variety of UK universities to examine how rural enterprises are adapting to the challenges affecting the rural economy. This year these include exploring co-working as a potential diversification opportunity for rural pubs, whether ‘investment zone’ approaches will help to meet the needs of rural enterprise and natural capital investment markets. 

  • Providing an evidence base for combined and local authorities on the contribution and potential of rural enterprise, informing their investment priorities and business support programmes for UK Shared Prosperity and Levelling Up. 

  • Contributing evidence and insight to All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse into Levelling Up the Rural Economy and cost of living in rural areas and Geographically Protected Foods on Protected Foods and Drink Name Policy in the UK. 

  • Addressing challenges around transition to net zero by working directly with communities on grassroots innovation projects such as solar-powered community buildings in Northumberland and a future Dynamic Procurement System for public food procurement in Gloucestershire. 

  • Engaging with hundreds of rural local authorities and organisations across the UK through collaborations with the Rural Services Network. 

  • Showcasing innovation in rural enterprise and communities through a series of videos of businesses which portray the rich diversity of the rural economy and our innovation portal.

  • Supporting rural businesses to understand how resilient their firm is through our practical online Resilience toolkit.

  • Trialling a Rural Business Beacons network to gather insights from rural businesses and channel their voice straight to policymakers. 

  • Reaching thousands of rural businesses through our partnership with Strutt and Parker

  • Supporting businesses to adapt in a changing workplace to attract, retain and engage employees by providing resources in our online Future of work module.

  • Publishing research on a range of areas affecting rural businesses including access to external finance, workplace mental health, microclustering of creative firms and producing sustainable, local, healthy food.

  • Helping to inform policy by publishing two major Briefing Papers calling on Government to harness rural economies’ extensive and diverse contributions in Levelling Up, and continuing to provide evidence and briefings to central government.  

  • Working with Building Digital UK to enable firms to share their views on rural broadband connection and the effect it has on their businesses. 

  • Helping tackle digital exclusion by working with partners to boost skills and confidence in rural communities. 

  • Helping to empower rural women innovators by co-leading a Living Lab in Scotland as part of a major European project. 

  • Hosting multiple knowledge exchange events, such as the Rural Catalyst Conference with the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project, to spotlight the issues that rural residents and businesses face, and the partnership work taking place to address these.