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Replicable business models for modern rural economies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RUBIZMO (Replicable business models for modern rural economies)

Período documentado: 2019-11-01 hasta 2021-10-31

Rural areas cover more than 50% of Europe’s surface and are home to over 20% of its population and play an important role in Europe’s economy, with the agricultural sector in particular supporting millions of jobs. However, rural areas face numerous challenges. Global competition, automation, changing markets and environmental challenges are all having an impact on rural activities.

RUBIZMO has generated jobs and growth in highly diverse rural areas by stimulating the large-scale deployment of successful, localised and innovative business models in the food sector, bio-based value chains and eco-system services. This deployment has fostered the modernisation and sustainable growth of rural economies while providing significant potential to create added-value, social cohesion and resilience, and contribute to more sustainable use of human and natural resources.

RUBIZMO believes that a new set of dynamics means rural economies are ripe for change. New communication technologies to support collaboration, shifting value chains and a growing acknowledgement of biodiversity and climate change mitigation all present significant opportunities as well as challenges. Experts from across Europe have examined how ‘hot spots’ for business success in this environment can be nurtured and eventually recreated elsewhere.

The rural economy holds great potential for pioneering deeply embedded sustainability and social return on investment in business models. In this respect, RUBIZMO has highlighted the best business models and initiatives that create value for the economy, environment and society in equal measure.

RUBIZMO has focused on three key elements to help make this happen:
- Identifying and analysing promising business models and collaborative networks fertile for up-scaling and replication
- Providing easy access overviews of these rural ‘hot spots’ of business innovation and practical support tools for entrepreneurs, local networks and policy makers to adopt them
- Active coaching of entrepreneurs and peer-to-peer training focusing on creating the novel collaboration patterns RUBIZMO assessment has identified as key for improved competitiveness and sustainability of the business model.
Improved tools for Entrepreneurship in rural areas.
The project has screened more than 400 relevant past European projects and analysed the results in order to produce four tailor-made tools for entrepreneurship in rural areas comprising a) a database of 47 business cases and 9 innovative business strategies, b) a transformation and support tool allowing entrepreneurs to adapt the business model to their case, c) a business environment tool allowing stakeholders to support rural entrepreneurs by sharing recommendation and offering a comprehensive framework, and d) a toolkit for supporting cooperation, clustering and networking.

Improving knowledge of business models emerging in rural areas.
RUBIZMO has identified, analysed and benchmarked 13 successful business models in order to understand their potential for development and replication in other areas. The lessons from the business models have included in the transformation and support tool for entrepreneurs and fed the recommendations for policy-makers. 5 scientific papers promoted the results, which were also presented at 10 international conferences. In the first reporting period, one scientific paper was published and the provisional projects results were presented at 8 conferences. In the second reporting period the results were presented at 19 conferences/events and a further 3 scientific papers produced.

Increasing the potential for rural economic diversification, added value and job creation in a variety of rural areas.
RUBIZMO created an open access training material repository where training modules in many different languages exist in several formats (video, animated videos, lectures, Powerpoints etc.) for future entrepreneurs, created a European Rural Development Academy, and organised dissemination events across Europe. An estimated 1110 students in agricultural and related sciences, 420 businesses and 1286 innovation support actors directly learnt about the benefits of innovative business models through capacity building and dissemination activities. 56 training events were organised across Europe with more than 2800 people trained, 21 cafés talks were organized on a weekly basis during 7 months and 7 virtual visits were organised in 10 different sites replacing the initially planned virtual study visits.

Making rural economies and societies more resilient to global changes.
The exploitation activities of the project have ensured long-term impact, and project tools supported the creation of new rural networks and collaborative platforms to be built on local strengths. 47 businesses were coached to help them develop their own business plans based on some of the resilient business models identified by the project, ensuring a real and direct impact on rural economies. 13 businesses began the realisation/implementation stage of initiating new business models in the project lifetime.

Improving the delivery of ecosystem services resulting from innovative forms of valorisation.
Within the virtual library, a total of 15 innovative business cases for enhanced delivery of ecosystem services have been featured, with a special focus on the creation of new value chains and digitisation. Regarding the number of business models, 8 were featured in the virtual library. Two inspirational videos presenting a specific business case based on ecosystem services were produced and disseminated across Europe, with subtitles in six different languages.
RUBIZMO impact has been achieved through a range of different activities such as coaching, teaching (entrepreneurs, students and advisors), workshops, scientific publications, reports, conferences, national stakeholder panels, social media, YouTube videos, online study visits and regular thematic presentations designated as RUBIZMO Café Talks.

A major source of both realised and potential impact lies in the RUBIZMO tools: the Virtual library, the Network tool, the Business Environment Tool and the Transformation Support tool. RUBIZMO also hosts a Training platform including multilingual training material for the project’s target groups. These tools assist rural entrepreneurs and communities in multiple ways such as inspiring, connecting and analysing the current situation and how to develop their business model.

RUBIZMO concluded that there are many policy changes that could be made to improve the business environment in rural areas and thus making it easier for rural entrepreneurs to build successful businesses. Some of the lessons learnt included that 1) an appropriate business model is important, but it does not guarantee success; 2) examples and context (such as provided by the Virtual Library) offers grounds for discussions to make abstract business models come alive, 3) innovation in business models is sector and site specific, 4) rural communities and businesses in Europe are very diverse and complex, and consequently so must its supportive structures be; 5) Digitalisation is a very powerful tool for sharing experience across rural areas, and that experiences from rural areas from different parts of Europe have a lot to teach one another.