Big ideas, big potential

Innovation projects

Combining theory and practice to encourage new ways of thinking

Together with our network of partners, we’re combining theory and practice to encourage new ways of thinking and supporting development of new products, services and practices that provide tangible benefits to our rural businesses and communities.

We’re working on a series of projects to do just that – through NICRE innovation projects and partnership projects.

Find out more here.


Potential areas for innovation

NICRE projects can 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

We are experimenting with exciting ways to facilitate and catalyse rural innovation. Below are some examples.

Newcastle University is using the design ‘sprint’ method with our partners at the Rural Design Centre. Design sprints allow us to co-create solutions to rural challenges with rural communities and other stakeholders. So far we have tackled:

  • rural mobility
  • energy
  • housing

Small teams creatively develop ideas and test them out over an intensive, short space of time. Each of the sprints brings together a range of stakeholders. These stakeholders define the problem and start to develop potential solutions.

CCRI is developing the idea of the Living Lab in Gloucestershire. A Living Lab is a form of experimental collaboration that emphasises co-creation in a real-world setting.

These Living Labs in Gloucestershire test new local economic models that capitalise on the county’s natural assets.

They build on CCRI's partnership with a network of 11 labs throughout Europe. The approach underpins our wider innovation work in NICRE.

Find out more about the network of 11 labs throughout Europe

The Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick explores how agriculture and horticulture firms can be better connected to researchers in Coventry.

They're developing new innovation partnerships that also include wider economic development organisations.