RUNES aims to identify potential applications in the transport sector which are going to have a significant impact on rural SMEs.
RUNES is primarily oriented to the emerging needs to European rural economics, and will stimulate supply and demand for Advanced Telematics Services (ATS) as well as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
The low average incomes, scattered, ageing and declining population bases mean that growth oriented SMEs must often leapfrog their immediate markets. Only by having access to the external metropolitan markets they can be confident of higher turnover, sustained demand and higher profit margins for their products. For rural SMEs the means through which they can access such markets, market information, liaison with raw material suppliers and customers, as well as the actual delivery and supply of goods is expensive and uncertain.
Access to EDI systems is often only possible for companies using large computer systems and either dedicated or public data lines. The small user is often sceptical as to the relevance of advanced Information and Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) to their business and as such is not convinced of the benefits that on-site ATS could bring.
RUNES is one of the three projects which address Tasks 3.1.3 and 3.1.4 of the ORA Workplan. The overall activities in this area will be led by SARBA. RUNES focuses on the transport sector and has links to the DRIVE Programme. SABRE addresses the provision of teleservices for rural business activities.
The RUNES approach is to focus on the contribution of the transport sector to rural development because:
it provides access and gateways to the external markets that are so crucial to successful rural diversification.
the efficiencies and competitiveness of rural industries exporting to external markets are limited by the efficiencies and competitiveness of the transporters of their products.
the transport sector has identified technological innovation in the areas of ATS as a source of major savings and efficiencies in the servicing of external markets.
barriers to use of these services exist for small firms, which deprive them of the potential benefits of these services even when they are aware of them.
it provides access and gateways to external supply or subcontracting markets, reduces stock holding requirements, and enhances liquidity.
enhances the possibility of rural enterprise networking.
In recent years, certain transporters have formed "electronic cargo communities" to build the systems and networks that can deliver these more sophisticated services to rural based small firms. Often these firms are too small and isolated to be commercially attractive to the larger cargo handlers.