Business models for modern rural economies
The modernisation of rural economies depends on the capacity of rural businesses to cooperate successfully to form efficient value chains which will deliver competitive products and services, high-quality and diverse jobs, and resilience to global economic and climate changes. The greater interest being shown in regional and local economies, resource-efficient and low carbon value chains or short supply chains provides opportunities to rethink and improve value chain organisation so as to turn specific assets into economic, environmental and social benefits, including through enhanced valorisation and optimisation of ecosystem services. There is a need to identify business models that have the most potential to empower rural communities to take advantage of these opportunities.
Building on the outcomes of past European projects on rural economic development and rural jobs, proposals will identify innovative business models that are developing in rural areas, have significant potential to create added value, social cohesion and jobs, and are likely to be upscaled to or replicated in other areas, taking into account the diversity of conditions in different areas. Proposals should undertake socio-economic analyses to identify, describe and benchmark different business models in terms of starting conditions, obstacles faced, enabling factors, financing mechanisms, generation of added value, jobs and other potential environmental and social benefits, gender issues, attractiveness to young workers, and the distribution of the value generated, exploring the concept of shared value. Particular attention should be paid to models that foster a more sustainable mobilisation of resources, improved cooperation between operators along the value chain and/or across traditional and developing sectors (e.g. via clusters/platforms), and lead to new products or services, and the recycling or up-cycling of materials. Proposals should consider food, bio-based value chains and other forms of rural business or service, in particular those based on digital technologies or valorisation and optimisation of ecosystem services. Proposals should produce practical and business-oriented tools, e.g. a collection of business cases, targeting new entrepreneurs who would like to set up businesses in rural areas and seek guidance and benchmarks on similar businesses to draw up their business plans.
Proposals should fall under the concept of' the multi-actor approach', engaging relevant actors such as businesses/entrepreneurs, business or economic development organisations and innovation support services, involved in development of these new business models. Communication and dissemination activities should be carefully planned and targeted to reach audiences likely to take up, replicate and adapt the business models identified.
Selected projects should cooperate closely to maximise impact across Europe (e.g. production of common tools for entrepreneurs and stakeholders, joint analysis and recommendations, joint dissemination plans).
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 4.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This action contributes to the modernisation and sustainable growth of rural economies. Applicants will measure the expected short-term impact of the project on the basis of:
- improved tools for entrepreneurship in rural areas, in particular with a database of business cases and supportive environment (e.g. clusters/platforms, technical/scientific services and infrastructure, advisory services, funding opportunities); and
- improved knowledge of business models emerging in rural areas, including a thorough understanding of their potential for development, performance and interest in economic, environmental and social terms and success factors or reasons for failures.
In the longer term, the results will:
- increase the potential for rural economic diversification, added value and job creation in a variety of rural areas thanks to the dissemination of promising business cases;
- make rural economies and societies more resilient to global changes; and
- improve the delivery of ecosystem services resulting from innovative forms of valorisation.