About one third of EU citizens (two thirds in Austria) live in rural areas, but GDP/capita remains below average. The disparities between urban and rural communities in demographic, economic and social terms are the subject of scientific projects and political programmes. It is necessary to empower rural areas to compensate for disadvantages and to make greater use of potentials with innovative solutions (green and digital transformation). The EU climate and environmental goals, the Green Deal and the Long Term Vision for Rural Areas form the background. The Horizon Europe project RURACTIVE was applied for on the initiative of the University of Bologna in order to develop scientific principles and methods to support the development of rural communities and to implement them in pilot regions.
RURACTIVE aims to promote equitable and sustainable change in rural areas by developing and testing smart, community-led, tailor-made, place-based and inclusive solutions within local "Multi-Actor Rural Innovation Ecosystems" in 12 pilot regions. RURACTIVE aims to unlock the innovation potential of rural communities by addressing six integrated drivers for rural development: multimodal mobility, energy transition, agri-food and agro-ecology, culture and cultural innovation, health and well-being, and nature and cultural tourism. Transversal topics such as climate protection and adaptation, biodiversity as well as social justice and integration will be integrated.
Planned procedure, implementation
RURACTIVE aims to make available existing knowledge on smart solutions, to address different forms of innovation and to strengthen the capacities and capabilities of rural communities. The overall objective is to enable rural community actors and policy makers to develop better strategies, initiatives and policies that promote the transition to sustainable development of rural communities by improving the understanding of the different rural functions, characteristics and future scenarios of rural regions, their potentials and challenges. Within the framework of RURACTIVE, seven work packages are foreseen:
WP 1: Project coordination and management
WP 2: Conceptual and Operational Framework for Rural Community Development
WP 3: Enhancing learning, capacity building and knowledge transfer approaches for smart rural communities
WP 4: Co-development of solutions in rural innovation ecosystems for inclusive community development
WP 5: Smart and community-based solutions for implementation, monitoring and evaluation
WP 6: RURACTIVE Digital Ecosystem & Hub for Rural Innovation
WP 7: Innovation management - communication, dissemination, exploitation and networking.
The BAB is involved in all work packages. The aim of RURACTIVE is to develop integrative decision-making processes and tools for the joint development, implementation of intelligent and collaborative solutions such as Decision Support Tool, Adaptive Monitoring Tool, RURACTIVE Digital Hub and to contribute to improvements on the ground. The results are disseminated through knowledge exchange and networking at EU level, nationally and in the regions, and training and capacity building activities are carried out for rural communities (e.g. with e-learning courses and MOOCs). Over the four years of the project, the BAB acts as an interface between the scientific work and specifications of the university project partners and their implementation in the Austrian example region of Southern Burgenland (the Austrian project partner is the Burgenland Business Agency). The main topics in Southern Burgenland will be mobility, nature and cultural tourism as well as food production and agro-ecology.
Project start: 03/2023
Project end: 12/2027