Traditional Tech Centre with no experience in primary sector to serve the innovation needs of a rural area.
Rural areas have development needs usually not addressed by technological solutions. The terms "technology" and "innovation" may not often be associated with rural areas. There are not institutions devoted to provide these solutions indeed. Technology should be purchased to ordinary providers (standard solutions/tools), and it is not easy to find
tailor made technology developments fitted to their needs.
Usually innovation in rural areas is looked for out of the traditional activities; instead of innovate in those traditional activities, SMEs look for innovation doing new work. Let’s improve that framework. The institution in charge is the ITAINNOVA, the Technological Institute of Aragon, a publicly funded Technological Centre, which serves the innovation needs of rural area.
ITAINNOVA did not need to create new structures or to employ new staff, as this Centre had enough resources to respond to rural innovation needs. Therefore, the Centre used its current budget (15M€ exploitation budget) to provide assistance and to work with rural companies and other stakeholders.
Evidence of success
ITAINNOVA is located in the city of Zaragoza, and its activity has been traditionally
related to this urban area. This is due to the fact of the local business network that
concentrates a large number of SMEs, and also to the isolation of the main rural areas,
that increase the gap between rural and urban areas of the region.
Since ITAINNOVA is also working in rural areas, eight projects have been developed (5
in SMEs, 2 in institutions, and one in a cluster) with a high impact in the areas
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice is potentially interesting for other regions that, like previously happen in Zaragoza region, tend to centralise the innovation activity of their Tech Centres in urban areas.
It means a change of approach, to think out of the box, and look for increasing its activity in rural areas, and letting rural SMEs to benefit from it support in innovation and technology development.
Besides, this model is very cheap in term of investments, as no new structures or invest in assets have been specifically designed for rural areas. There is no need to create a new technological centre for rural areas, and on the other side, users and also potential users do not need to purchase or hire technology developments to ordinary providers without knowledge of rural idiosyncrasy.
Therefore, these solutions are easily replicable to other regions.
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