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The EU Startup Village Forum to revitalise the rural economy


On 28th February, the Joint Research Research jointly with the European Commission has organised the 2023 edition of the European Startup Village Forum. Launched in 2021, the European Startup Village Forum is a flagship initiative of the European Commission and it aims to drive startup-driven innovation in rural areas. The Startup Village Forum intends to be an inclusive space where institutions and stakeholders can meet, discuss and connect to boost entrepreneurship and innovation in rural areas.

The 2023 edition of the Forum mainly focused on the key elements and enabling conditions for the creation of Startup Villages in rural areas. The event received a high-level institutional support and it was chaired by several European high-level representatives including Commissioner Gabriel (DG CONNECT), Commissioner Wojciechowski (DG AGRI), Commissioner Ferreira (DG COTER), Vice-President Šuica, Member of the EU Parliament Carvalho, Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions Tzitzikostas.

What is a Startup Village?

The concept of Startup Village has been defined in a recent paper “Startup Village conceptualisation” published by the Joint Research Centre and presented by its lead author, Ms Goodwin-Hawkins, during the 2023 Startup Village Forum. According to this paper, a Startup Village is defined as “a place (or a network of small places) that embrace innovation and ambitious entrepreneurship as a way to unlock development potential and support wellbeing in rural areas”.

The Startup Village concept, explained Ms Goodwin-Hawkins, focus mainly on startups and new businesses located in rural areas (place-based), but that can grow and serve a market demand beyond rural territories (not place-bound). The aim of Startup Village is to foster, attract and retain entrepreneurs by activating new and existing innovation ecosystems in rural areas.  

Ms Goodwin-Hawkins also pointed out that further research is needed to support the roll-out of Startup Villages in rural areas, for instance to what extent building blocks of this concept should be endogenous of rural villages or exogenous variables.

Paving the way for a rural innovation ecosystem

The event gave the floor to several innovators from rural areas across Europe, as well as facilitators of rural innovation ecosystems. Among these, the Startup Village Alliance, a network of rural innovators, startups, corporates and clusters that has recently signed a formal commitment to support rural entrepreneurship and innovation under the lead of the Lithuania AgriFood Digital Innovation Hub; or the Startup Village Alliance Hub led by the European Universities Alliance  to connect science-based knowledge with concrete needs of rural areas.

A Startup Village map

On 28th February, the Joint Research Centre has also shared the breaking news about the launch of the Startup Village Mapping Tool. The aim is to collect and visualise all Startup Villages across rural areas in Europe. The tool is based on the voluntarily contribution of any local authority.

So, if you are a municipality and you believe to contribute with policies and practice to a Startup Village, do not hesitate to include it in the Mapping Tool

Published by Carla Lostrangio

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