13 October 2023

Progress from the Grass Ceiling Scotland Living Lab

The second UK Living Lab as part of the Grass Ceiling project has taken place. The participants met in Ullapool, Scotland, in early October to discuss the 'Explore' phase of the innovation process and share their reflections and experiences from the first few months of the project.

The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) is leading the Living Lab with the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University and the Scottish Crofting Federation.

Exploring innovation

The day began with reflections about participating in the project thus far, which included not only the first Living Lab meeting in June, but also individual one-to-one meetings with the NICRE and SCF facilitators.

Participants were inspired by the first meeting and spoke about creating a brainstorm, or 'nerve centre' through the one-to-one sessions.

Participants were also asked to come prepared with examples of innovation that inspired them, which included many in small-scale food or goods production (e.g. the Green Bowl, Goats and Coats, Chimney Sheep) and others related to wider sustainability approaches (e.g. Who Gives a Crap and Faith in Nature).

The theme of the day focused on the 'Explore' phase of the innovation process, and used these examples of innovation to take a step back to think about how to start, by identifying and empathising with your audience.

An update from Brussels

The day also included an update from the Grass Ceiling project showcase in Brussels in September, which was attended not only by project partners, but also by one of the Lab participants, Beth Rose, and a representative from SCF, Yvonne White.

Beth and Yvonne spoke about their impressions of the overall project, and the potential for the efforts within the Scottish Living Lab to drive policy change for rural women across Europe. They also were very interested in the stories from the Living Labs in other countries, and the focus on projects that are sustainable, small-scale and community-based. Yvonne emphasised the theme of 'small is beautiful', with people and building communities at the heart of innovation. Beth appreciated the opportunity for networking and learning about approaches to communication, particularly in how to consider best utilising social media. The group was hopeful to find opportunities to connect with and share experiences directly with the other Living Lab participants across the nine countries in the project.

For more information about the Grass Ceiling project, visit the NICRE project page and Grass Ceiling EU project page.