RUMORE project activities are speeding up in Lombardy Region. After the official establishment of the local stakeholder group in February 2017, this held its next meeting on 31 May in Milan. The meeting brought together representatives of the local public administrations, rural districts and enterprises, high tech clusters and ERDF ROP managers. It set the floor for an intensive exchange on possibilities for support of innovative actions in rural areas.

In his opening words Filippo Dadone, head of the Department on Spatial Planning of Lombardy Region, emphasized the importance of urban-rural cooperation for the development of the metropolitan area of Milan. He pointed out the contribution of the RUMORE activities to the on-going governance process “Milan, a rural metropoly” as well as the significant interrelations with the permanent discussion table on “Innovative enterprises”. Furthermore, he highlighted the major goals of urban-rural cooperation in the Milan metropolitan area. These include the need to activate innovative mechanisms for the urban-rural economy, to enlarge the participation of small enterprises in the process and to create conditions for the efficient use of available funds.

Following this introduction, Carlo Palazzoli, main project coordinator for Lombardy Region, presented the paramount objectives and activities of RUMORE. He remarked the potentials of the project’s learning process for the improvement of the ERDF Regional Operational Programme. The provided overview set the framework for an intensive debate in the local stakeholder group. The discussion focused on a number of core issues such as the smart specialisation strategy as an engine for matching between rural and industrial groups, the multifunctionality as a territorial development instrument and the change from the understanding of agriculture as an economic part of the territory to the concept “agriculture is territory”.

In the meeting, stakeholders from the public administration, the private sector and the research field discussed on first ideas for improvement of the ERDF Regional Operational Programme. A special emphasis in the discussion was placed on the need for a better overview and knowledge on the various financial possibilities existing in Lombardy Region, the scheduling of the calls for projects and the targeted provision of input and support for the development of projects in rural districts.