Diverse rural economy to be explored at conference

The rich diversity of the rural economy is to be explored at a conference in Northumberland in October

Rural businesses and community groups are invited to attend the Rural Catalyst Conference at Charlton Hall, near Alnwick, on Thursday 6 October 2022 in-person or online – register here

Organised by the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project (RDCIP) and the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE), the conference will showcase national-leading innovation in rural enterprise and debate the future of the rural North East.

Featuring a mix of high-profile national speakers and workshops, it will also contribute towards solving challenges experienced by rural communities.

The conference is part of the Rural Catalyst initiative, a collaboration between Rural Design Centre (RDC), which delivers RDCIP, and NICRE to tackle the challenges facing rural areas through research, innovation, design and community engagement.

Simon Green, CEO at the RDC, summarised the thinking behind the conference and why it matters to the North East. He said:

“Our region has a large rural population but it’s spread across an enormous area. Sometimes this means that the contribution of this population is missed or assumed to be all about farming, which is actually only a small part of the truth.

“Rural areas like Northumberland present different opportunities for economic, environmental and social development to urban areas but it’s vital we don’t lose sight of the differences from one village to another, from coast to countryside and from ex-mining villages to affluent commuter towns.

“The Rural Catalyst initiative works with communities across the North East to understand these differences. In doing so, the work leads to new ways to tackle rural challenges and new ways to unlock rural potential.”

 Melanie Thompson-Glen, NICRE business development manager, said:

“The rural economy is diverse, varied and, above all, innovative.

“We have many businesses based in the rural North East which are breaking new ground at the forefront of their industries, while at the same time being at the heart of and supporting their local communities.

“The conference will showcase these businesses while also debate the topics which are set to play a part in the future of our rural areas. We’d encourage businesses and community groups to come along and help shape that future and celebrate innovation in rural enterprise.”

Speakers will include rural innovation and development experts, with Margaret Clark, chair of Rural Coalition, and Prof Stephen Roper, director of the Enterprise Research Centre, giving a national perspective and Dinah Jackson providing a regional view.

Libby Bateman, North Rural Advisor at the Country Land and Business Association, Mike Pratt, Chief Executive Officer at Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Jeremy Leggett, policy advisor at Action with Communities in Rural England and Kate Baucherel, digital strategist will debate the future of the rural North East in a session chaired by Lord Curry of Kirkharle.


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