The National Rural Conference 2022 Conference Supporter - NICRE

The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) puts knowledge to work for an enterprising countryside… combining research with practical innovation to find new ways of unlocking potential and supporting thriving rural businesses and communities.

Here’s how:

  1. We research...

Research increases our knowledge and deepens our understanding, changing the way we think about rural enterprises, how we address their challenges and identify new opportunities.

  1. We innovate…

Together with our network of partners, we’re combining theory and practice to encourage new ways of thinking and supporting development of new products, services and practices that provide tangible benefits to our rural businesses and communities.

  1. We inform…

Sharing the knowledge, best practice and practical experience we’ve gained to inform local, regional and national policy making and support for rural enterprise at all levels.

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

Alongside our business partner Strutt and Parker and a host of network partners across the UK, we have strong links with rural businesses and communities. 

Our success so far

Highlights include:

  • Securing the support of Defra and key business and rural stakeholders for findings of our major rural business survey on the quality of infrastructure and networks and impacts of Covid-19.
  • Hosting multiple knowledge exchange events, such as the annual Rural Catalyst Conferencewith the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project to spotlight the issues that rural residents and businesses face, and the partnership work taking place to address these.
  • Having our evidence acknowledged in reports by All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse into Levelling Up the Rural Economy and Geographically Protected Foods on Protected Foods and Drink Name Policy in the UK.
  • Engaging with hundreds of rural local authorities and organisations across the UK through collaborations with the Rural Services Network.
  • Publishing research on a range of areas affecting rural businesses including approaches to net zero practices and digital adoption, attitudes to innovation, exporting behaviour and levels of rural entrepreneurship.
  • Working with Building Digital UK, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), to enable firms to share their views on rural broadband connection and the effect it has on their businesses.
  • Reaching thousands of rural businesses through our partnerships with Strutt and Parker and the Rural Business Group.
  • Championing innovation in rural enterprise through supporting the Rural Business Awards
  • Helping to inform policy by publishing two major Briefing Papers calling on Government to harness rural economies’ extensive and diverse contributions in Levelling Up.
  • Working with a range of partners and rural communities on a series of innovation projects to develop practical solutions to the challenges they face. An example is our work with Community Action Northumberland and the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project on a project to help community buildings on their journey to net zero by having solar panels with associated battery storage facilities.
  • Commissioning seven research projects led by a variety of UK universities to further explore rural enterprise, including entrepreneurs’ attitudes towards community placemaking and transport planning, community food hubs and mapping England microclusters of creative industries.

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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