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07.1 Community based research. Outcomes and impact in transitioning rural regions

5419.0114 (Kapteynborg)
Tuesday, June 27, 2023
13:45 - 15:15


Dr. Simona Bravaglieri
Research Fellow
University of Bologna

Multi-actor Rural Innovation Ecosystems: definition, dynamics and spatial relations in the establishment of innovation hubs in rural areas


Rural communities and territories can be generative ground for Innovation Ecosystems hosting resources and capacities to become vibrant centers of innovation based on local heritage and resources, with a high potential of raising grassroots action to be boosted through social and digital innovation, and eventually resulting in attractive places for all people to live, work and stay. While we can find various definitions of urban innovation districts/ecosystems and geographies of innovation at urban level, only some scholars have focused on understanding and further defining innovation ecosystems in the rural context. Innovation Ecosystems in rural areas must be re-tailored on alternative and complementary challenges to be mapped. The activation of multi-actor Rural Innovation Ecosystems for community-led development and empowerment should go beyond current rural participation approaches by engaging communities to identify challenges and relevant stakeholders with the aim to develop, implement and monitor smart, community-led, tailor-made, place-based and inclusive solutions. This contribution presents a proposal for defining Rural Innovation Ecosystem, also in contrast to urban space highlighting common traits and main differences to accelerate and better spread their establishment.
Dr. Elles Bulder
Hanze University of Applied Sciences

The village support worker. An example of a community-based care initiative in the Netherlands.


The village support worker.
An example of a community-based care initiative in the Netherlands

The ageing of the EU-27 population puts, amongst others, pressures on the healthcare system because of higher age-related public spending. (EPRS, 2021). The last decades citizen initiatives, became a popular policy tool in the Netherlands (Hurenkamp and Tonkens, 2020). This is in line with the Big Society ideology that can be discerned throughout Europe. In the Netherlands, this development gave rise to what is called the ‘participation society’. The related policy encourages citizens to take responsibility for their own physical and social environment (Ubels, Bock and Haartsen, 2019). In this context, citizens are for example increasingly expected to take care of their neighbours when they are in need of care.
In this paper an interesting example of how this can be organised in a rural environment will be discussed. ‘Wedde dat het lukt’ is a community-based care initiative (4 villages with in total 2.190 inhabitants), initiated by a general practitioner, villagers, associations, professional care providers and other organizations work together to maintain and improve the quality of life in several villages.

EPRS (2021) Demographic Outlook for the European Union. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document/EPRS_STU(2021)690528 (1 december 2021)
Hurenkamp, M. en E. Tonkens (2020) “Ontwerpprincipes voor betere burgerparticipatie,” Bestuurskunde, XXIX 1 54- 63.
Ubels, H., B.B. Bock en T. Haartsen. (2019) “The Dynamics of Self-Governance Capacity: The Dutch Rural Civic Initiative ‘Project Ulrum 2034’,“ Sociologia Ruralis, LIX 4 763-788.
Gideon Visser
HAN University of Applied Sciences

Co-creating Mobility-as-a-Service for a rural area


Public transport services for rural areas experience similar difficulties around the world: a combination of an ageing, small, dispersed population in combination with the private car as the preferred mode of transportation makes it difficult to operate profitable public transport services. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is arising as a new mobility concept that enables users to plan, book and pay for multiple modes of transportation using one platform, can help to respond to challenges with respect to availability but also sustainability of transportation.
This paper presents the co-creation of a rural MaaS following a design thinking approach. It involved first and foremost active local inhabitants of six small villages (1000-2000 inhabitants) but also community building- and communication experts, the Achterhoek Regional Board, municipalities and local companies. Framed as “inhabitants behind the steering wheel”, local dwellers contributed in all stages of design thinking process.
This resulted in Netmobiel as a community-driven platform (smartphone application) that integrated ride sharing with public transport, with an architecture that anticipates the addition of new modalities. A cooperative governance model was developed, resulting in a reginal mobility platform labelled as ‘Gaon’.
This paper will demonstrate the solution and lessons from the design thinking process, the way the process is interwoven with the stepwise development of a governance model, and the communication and community building campaign. Lastly, we critically reflect on the specific role of an UAS as a regional driver of change.

Key words
Mobility-as-a-Service, design thinking, community building, rural areas

Colm Stockdale
Phd Candidate
Panteion University

Local Hubs and Place Based Social Innovation: The case of Messolonghi by Locals and Participatory Mapping


This research will address the emergence of a trend towards a new form of community/social infrastructure found in rural and peripheral areas – from traditional institutions (such as town halls, sports clubs etc.) towards new more (socially) innovative infrastructures known as collaborative workspaces (CWS). Rural and peripheral areas have faced negative connotations, as they have often been cast as inferior, in relation to urban agglomerations from a social, economic and cultural perspective. Consequently, different forms of CWS have been documented in rural and peripheral areas, claiming to address local social challenges and/or engage in local development, by offering local services, events and other activities in places that have faced typical challenges related to their geographic locations. However, there lacks a knowledge to what extent we can embrace these infrastructures as a means of local development and their ability to address specific local challenges, change social relations and have transformative potential for rural and peripheral places i.e. social innovation. While having the potential to address many of the challenges faced by rural communities, such as marginalization, insufficient infrastructure, out-migration etc., they also contain a threat of urban-colonization and rural gentrification. Through a case study of a CWS from a small peripheral town in Western Greece, which aims to change the perceptions of local inhabitants through participatory mapping and other events, I will present some preliminary findings from PhD fieldwork regarding how rural CWS involve themselves in social innovation processes in rural areas.
Robert Saputra
Doctoral Student
Charles University

Transformation of rural areas in Indonesia in the context of global trends and challenges


The phenomenon of the global village amidst globalization renders opportunities as well as challenges to the rural economy. This research aims to examine the implementation of the current village development policy in Indonesia, village funds, and its readiness to cope with global economic challenges in rural areas. This study applies a qualitative approach that is enhanced by structured interviews and field research. This research is conducted in rural areas in Kepulauan Meranti, Indonesia. As a model area, Kepulauan Meranti represents the rural regions in Indonesia characterized by a high poverty rate, low human resources quality, and an agriculture-based economy. This research found that the previous village development programs before the reformation era in 1998, the land reformation and green revolution policy, are all based on a top-down approach, and they inherited some valuable and still applicable insight for Indonesia's current rural development policies. As for the implementation of the village funds program, this research discovered some issues: distribution formulation, infrastructure-dominated utilization, the village's high dependency on financial support from the central government, poor institutional environment, and lack of managerial capacity at the village level. In order to reinforce the rural economy through implementing the village funds policy, this research proposes the optimization of social capital role in the village-owned enterprise management through a Penta-helix collaboration embracing village-owned enterprises, government, academics, private sectors, and media in the villages' value chain framework.

Session host

Elles Bulder
Hanze University of Applied Sciences

Korrie Melis
HAN University of Applied Sciences



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl