Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS


RAPIDO Streszczenie raportu

Project ID: 44264
Źródło dofinansowania: FP6-POLICIES
Kraj: Germany

Final Report Summary - RAPIDO (Rural Areas, People and Innovative Development)

RAPIDO is a research project - funded under Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) of the European Commission - that aims to facilitate innovation and knowledge transfer in rural areas in Europe with a special focus on agriculture, forestry and food industry. The RAPIDO project began in March 2007 and will be completed in February 2009. The project is coordinated by Ecologic Institute in Berlin, Germany, and includes ten partner organisations from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The RAPIDO project provides an opportunity for researchers interested in innovation to come together with leaders in the field through questionnaires and workshops to develop a detailed perspective on which sectors and actors should be targeted by innovation initiatives. The focus is on rural areas because most of the problems European societies are currently facing, such as ageing populations, high unemployment rates, social disparities and the lack of adaptive potential to the global market, are often more pronounced in rural areas than in other regions. However, aside from these general problems, rural areas face their own particular set of problems, which should be addressed by specific strategies and approaches. These issues have a major impact on agricultural markets in addition to local economies in rural areas. It is in these areas that innovation is most needed.

The RAPIDO project objectives have been accomplished through scientific analysis of current processes and actors in this field across Europe, the identification of key actors and sectors to focus on in the future and finally, scientific advice on to how to better integrate the Lisbon objectives into rural development policies. Based on the analysis of success criteria and promising options for the future, policy recommendations have been given regarding which areas to focus on and concentrate efforts.

The project consists of eight work packages, with work packages 1-5 focused on research, work package 6 focused on workshops, work package 7 on dissemination and work package 8 on management. The common framework, RAPIDO research papers, meeting and dissemination documents are available on the RAPIDO project website:

Methodology and structure of activities

To achieve the abovementioned general objectives, the RAPIDO Specific Support Action has the following eight specific objectives:
1. to identify key areas in agriculture, the food industry and forestry (areas with high job creation potential, future markets, future technologies);
2. to exchange information on experiences and strategies in rural development and to foster mutual learning and knowledge exchange across regions in Europe (training / mutual learning, ICT, etc.);
3. to extract key factors for success and constraints for successful innovation development in rural areas;
4. to identify sectors where innovation would help to create employment in rural areas;
5. to analyse the role of different actors (public / private / industry / policy makers/ community stakeholders) in the process of promoting and taking up of initiatives;
6. to review the most promising methods to facilitate innovation (processes) and knowledge transfer (including analysis of common barriers for both);
7. to evaluate the role of the Environmental technology action plan (ETAP) in fostering innovation in rural areas;
8. to give recommendations on how to facilitate innovation through: rural policies (question of policy design, efficiency of policies), sectoral initiatives to foster innovative development, funding mechanisms and bottom up initiatives (local / regional bottom up initiatives).

Milestones and deliverables achieved during the project

The RAPIDO website was launched in May 2007 and has since then been updated regularly. The website contains information about the project itself, about the partners, events and results. Available for download on the public website are: all the RAPIDO report deliverables, both policy briefs, both e-news alerts, etc.

Work package 1 consisted of designing a matrix to qualitatively evaluate the sustainability and the success of the projects covered by the 67 best practice examples analysed in the field of innovation in rural areas.

The first workshop, was held in Venice, Italy on 29-30 November. Six outside experts were invited to present their work to the project consortium. These presentations are available for download on the RAPIDO project website, and provided key insights into six of the 67 best practice case studies. Topics included coastal farm business - agri-environmental schemes, organic food production, renewable energy, communications, ICT, etc.

Work package 2 reviewed key areas in agriculture, forestry and food industry on which future investments in innovation and research should focus. A detailed questionnaire was first developed and then sent to targeted experts, representatives of organisations or companies. Findings show that fostering the implementation of innovations in rural areas offers multiple positive effects: inter-linkage of job creation, income generation, resource efficiency and environmental benefits.

The findings of work package 1 and 2 are briefly summarised in the first e-news alert and highlighted in the first policy brief. In general, the project disseminates its activities and outcomes EU-wide via the partner's networks addressing policy makers and stakeholders as well as researchers in the agricultural and rural development scene, the representatives of the non-governmental organisation (NGOs, e.g. farmer associations) and private companies (e.g. farm device suppliers, retailers, tourism industry).

The goals of RAPIDO work package 3 were to identify the sectors where innovation enhances rural employment and to analyse the dual role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the creation of new jobs related to innovation. The findings show that innovation is an effective approach to enhance the creation of new skilled jobs for qualified people. The sectors that show higher potential for the creation of these 'new skilled' jobs include, as expected, knowledge-based activities, such as R&D, advanced technology production, and environment-related activities. Nevertheless, innovation undertaken by other sectors, namely the classical sectors such as agriculture and the food industry, also entails the creation of skilled jobs. Furthermore, innovation might be helpful to secure jobs as revealed by the sectors of agro-tourism and social services.

The objectives of work package 4 were to provide a review and analysis of ETAP and of the role of environmental technologies in rural areas. In the first stage, the role of ETAP was analysed based on the assessment of 12 national roadmaps from a representative group of EU Member States. In the second stage of the study, 13 case studies were conducted to provide an in-depth analysis of environmental technology initiatives taking place in rural areas. Results of the review showed that ETAP has significant potential to streamline and focus Member States' efforts with regard to environmental technologies; however, its voluntary nature limits its effectiveness. The case study approach indicated that building confidence in new environmental technologies among government officials was a key factor in the long-term success of many case study projects.

The second RAPIDO project workshop was held in Vila Real, Portugal on 27-28 November 2008. The main objective of the workshop was to develop final policy recommendations, to serve as a basis for the second RAPIDO policy brief, on how to facilitate innovation in rural areas. The results of work packages 3 to 5 were presented and discussed. To illustrate aspects of these results, four experts were invited to present their work, provide valuable input and interact with the RAPIDO partners. The following input was provided by outside experts:

- employment dynamics in rural regions in the EU;
- lessons from the field: Innovation for rural development and job creation;
- promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in rural areas: lessons from Pieria, Greece;
- establishing alliances and interactions between local actors: experiences from Spanish case studies.

Work package 5 aimed to review the processes and the role of different actors (public / private) and to provide a summary overview of the methods used to transfer innovation to the relevant actors. The role of an information exchange process in selected case study regions, as well as the significance of networks, partnerships and regional and thematic clusters were identified as important factors for information transfer. The investigation clearly indicates that there is a wide range of innovation potential in rural areas - but key factors for successful innovation differ in comparison to urban agglomerations. A key factor of successful innovation is tacit or embedded knowledge. All case study regions prove that the organisation and promotion of manufacturing traditions or traditional services on a very high level leads to spill-over effects, hence to further innovation among firms and customers.

The second RAPIDO policy brief provides policy and decision makers with insights into the characteristics of innovation in rural areas and points to further research needs in this field.

The policy brief presents scientific advice and recommendations of measures, illustrated by means of case study examples analysed throughout the different phases of the project, to promote and facilitate the uptake and spread of innovative initiatives in European rural areas, as a key means of integrating the Lisbon objectives with rural development objectives. It was prepared by Ecologic, is based on the discussion on policy recommendations during the 2nd workshop and on input from several partners. Both RAPIDO policy briefs have been submitted as public outputs on the CORDIS project dissemination website.

The scientific article 'Innovation as a tool to promote sustainable development in rural areas: recommendations for policymakers' has been prepared by some of the RAPIDO consortium partners as a dissemination activity. It presents some of the key results of the project and offers policy recommendations to increase efficient support to innovative initiatives in rural areas. These are:
- strengthen local networks;
- invest in rural people: infrastructure and education;
- improve the receptivity and targeted support to small, diversified and multi-sectoral initiatives;
- cultivate an environment of trust and cooperation.

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