Rural-Urban cooperation leading to MORE innovation – RUMORE final conference

Over the last five years, the RUMORE project has been a productive platform to exchange and develop ideas for rural-urban partnerships and innovation delivery. During an online final conference on 27.09.2021 participants could explore and discuss the outcomes of the RUMORE project and share their ideas on the topic of rural-urban cooperation.

The following main experiences from our six partner regions were presented:

Lombardy (IT) supported networking between creative, digital SMEs and farmers in the frame of its agreement 'Milano rural metropolis' and improved the access of agricultural entrepreneurs to ERDF funding

Green Knowledge Portal Twente (NL) consolidated its regional triple helix organization on regional food and supported initiatives and entrepreneurs to establish regional food chains

Burgas (BG) initiated the Black Sea Center as a one-stop agency for blue growth and innovations and an online innovation platform with services to develop prototypes of new products

Amsterdam (NL) connected farmers and innovators to create ideas for new regional food products and support short food chains as well as food waste avoidance

Central Macedonia (GR) developed blockchain and cloud-based data management solutions to improve the rice value chain by digitalizing the origin and quality of food

Lüneburg (DE) used structural funds to support cooperation with universities in innovation projects for regional development

The three parallel panels discussions produced interesting output and ideas for future cooperation:

The first panel ‘How we might stimulate short food chains with rural-urban partnerships’ agreed that in order to support short food chains it is important to link the topic of food and agricultural production to other sectors like education, culture, and creative economy. This became evident in Amsterdam, Lombardy, and Twente. Also, the panel stressed that poorer groups of the society need to be reached and involved to enable them access to good regional food.

The second panel ‘How we might better involve local stakeholders in rural-urban cooperation with the support of regional policy instruments’ emphasized that it is important for a good involvement that stakeholders need to define their stake - this is not an easy process. More general the question of how to facilitate the process of involving different stakeholders was regarded as crucial. Several good examples e.g. from Central Macedonia, Lombardy, and Lüneburg on how to involve different types of stakeholders were given.

The third panel ‘How we might utilize digitalization as a chance for rural-urban innovation’ discussed results from the frontrunner projects for digitalization in Burgas (sensors), Central Macedonia (blockchain), and Twente (glass fiber connection as a baseline for new developments). An important lesson learned is to concentrate on the first movers who are interested in digitalization. In an initial step, these first movers need to be identified, then through pilot projects, further actors like farmers can be interested and involved even in more complicated projects and tools.

The discussions provided both an overview of the results of RUMORE and an outlook for topics for future inter-regional cooperation.