The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

The National Rural Conference 2021 Conference Supporter - NICRE

About the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE)

NICRE collaborates, researches and co-designs ideas and solutions to foster rural enterprise and unlock the potential in the UK’s rural economies.

We’re a powerful and unique hub of innovation, research excellence, knowledge exchange and impact. We focus on:

  • Undertaking and commissioning new research to fill gaps in current knowledge of rural enterprise and innovation
  • Developing practical solutions with businesses, rural communities and economic development agencies
  • Providing evidence to inform better policy and support for rural businesses

We work with a variety of stakeholders to take part in research and catalyse change to build stronger, more resilient rural communities.

We bring together the strengths of our founding university partners: Centre for Rural Economy and Business School at Newcastle University, Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick University and Countryside and the Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire and Royal Agricultural University.

Our aim is to be the go-to resource for rural enterprise research and evidence.

Our diverse work

Since founding in September 2020 with funding by Research England, we have been:

  • Conducting research and analysis on a host of topics including rural enterprise hubs, exporting, access to external finance and business support and short food supply chains.
  • Publishing research on rural SMEs’ approaches to net zero practices and digital adoption and rural micro-businesses’ attitudes to innovation.
  • Commissioning seven research projects led by a variety of UK universities to further explore our themes of ‘productive rural’, ‘smart rural’, ‘engaged rural’ and ‘resilient rural’. These include shining the spotlight on rural creative industries, the contribution of social enterprise and the impacts of COVID-19 on rural shoppers and retail strategies,
  • Launching the first major survey of rural and farming businesses to explore the lesser-known area of rural resilience in the wake of COVID-19. We have been speaking to more than 4,000 firms in the North East, South West and Midlands with the results expected in the autumn.
  • Working with a range of partners and rural communities on a series of innovation projects to develop practical solutions to the challenges they face. These include creating new opportunities for farmers in the South West to sell their produce locally into public sector catering contracts, helping to develop smart community buildings in rural areas and supporting digital transformation and low-carbon practices in the food and drink sector, both in the North East.
  • Helping to make a practical difference by supporting rural businesses to transition to net zero by:
    • Co-hosting an event for food and drink firms to help more towards sustainable last-mile delivery.
    • Showcasing net zero in rural enterprise at events held by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for SMEs in the North East and South West.
    • Setting up our ‘Just one thing’ rural business community to encourage every firm to do something to start their journey to net zero. Our Facebook group is for businesses to share their ideas, their experiences and their challenges of being more sustainable – join us. pass on the link and reduce carbon together.
  • Informing better policy by publishing a Briefing Paper about further enabling the contribution of rural enterprise to Levelling Up to revitalise rural and non-rural areas.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about NICRE, follow us on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook), visit our website, sign up for updates or email


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