Strutt & Parker is delighted to announce that it will be one of the founding business service partners of the new National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE).
The Centre plans to undertake research and knowledge exchange to support resilience and innovation among rural firms, unlocking the untapped potential of rural economies across the UK.
Led by experts from Newcastle, Warwick, Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural Universities, and working with businesses, policymakers, enterprise agencies and communities, the Centre has been awarded £3.8m of funding by Research England.
As a business service partner, Strutt & Parker’s role will be to extend the Centre’s reach to tens of thousands of rural enterprises, provide feedback to inform research and policy-related activities and share our expertise in developing market-ready products and delivering practical change.
The strategic timeliness of the Centre could not be better.
The government has repeatedly said that the changes that Brexit will bring are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to introduce new ways of supporting our economy to reach its potential.
NICRE can provide much of the research, knowledge transfer and support for businesses, and exemplars that are needed to do this.
In England alone, rural businesses comprise over half a million enterprises, 3.6m employees and contribute over £260bn to GDP. Yet despite this, they are still largely underexplored and underutilised.
Through NICRE, the aim is to help build the capabilities of policy makers, support agencies, rural businesses and their advisers to create resilient and sustainable economies fit for the 21st century.
As Centre Director Jeremy Phillipson, Professor of Rural Development at Newcastle University, points out: “A thriving rural economy is crucial to the future prosperity, well-being and resilience of communities across the UK.
“The need to encourage and release the dynamism and untapped potential of rural areas is even greater now with the combined uncertainty of Brexit and impacts of Covid-19 and what the implications will be, not just for rural areas, but for the UK economy as a whole.”
Though the decision to fund NICRE was taken before the outbreak of Covid-19, its work will help to understand the ongoing impacts in rural areas and inform recovery.
The Centre is due to begin its work formally this September, but the current crisis means its partners are already working to support the national response to the pandemic.[i]
A key focus for NICRE will be to identify and contribute rural insight on the country’s long-term challenges and opportunities – an ageing society, need for clean growth, future mobility and the data revolution – identified as Grand Challenges in the UK’s Industrial Strategy.
Find out more about the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise
 The Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University has recently published a briefing paper on the impact of Covid-19 on rural economies.