02 September 2022

Evidence on rural enterprise to be presented at national conference

Findings from rural business survey

An analysis of rural enterprise in regions of England is to be put forward at the Rural Services Network’s (RSN) National Rural Conference 2022.

Conference supporter the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) is to present the findings of its first major rural business survey as part of the ‘Rural Regeneration’ session on Tuesday 20 September – if you're a member of the RSN, book your place.

NICRE has published three State of Rural Enterprise Reports from a survey of more than 4,000 rural businesses in the North East, South West and West Midlands.

The reports have highlighted how firms showed resilience by innovating and adapting in response to Covid-19 and how sub-standard infrastructure in rural areas – particularly lack of quality broadband – is affecting businesses’ ability to bounce back from adversity. Responses from farm businesses have indicated that many may struggle to cope with the challenges of new agricultural policies and the withdrawal of the Basic Payment Scheme, given that a majority do not engage in formal business planning or seek external professional advice.

The evidence is strengthening calls for ongoing support for rural enterprise and the need to invest in infrastructure in rural areas as the Government seeks to Level Up Britain.

Views sought on 2023 survey

NICRE director Prof Jeremy Phillipson said: “It is excellent to have the opportunity to showcase the findings of our rural business survey on a national stage.

“Our survey provides a much-needed evidence base into the prospects and constraints of rural businesses and brings into sharp focus the state of rural enterprise and how future support should be channelled.

“As we look ahead to developing our second survey which is set to take place next year, it will be most useful to seek delegates’ views on its focus given the challenges associated with energy prices and the cost-of-business crisis.”

NICRE’s first report focuses on the effect of Covid-19 on rural businesses and its second their experiences of infrastructure and networks. The third concentrates on farm business performance.

NICRE’s presentation – The State of Rural Enterprise: Key Insights for Rural Regeneration – will be delivered by Dr Maria Wishart, Research Fellow, who was instrumental in the development and analysis of the survey at the Enterprise Research Centre. Book your place if you're a member of the RSN by 10am on 12 September.

To input into NICRE’s next rural business survey, email nicre@newcastle.ac.uk

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