Rural businesses and community groups are invited to attend the Rural Catalyst Conference at Charlton Hall, near Alnwick, on Thursday October 6, in person or online.
Organized by the Rural Design Center Innovation Project (RDCIP) and the National Innovation Center for Rural Enterprise (NICRE), the conference will showcase cutting-edge innovation in rural enterprise and discuss the future rural northeast.
With a mix of high-level national speakers and workshops, it will also contribute to solving the challenges faced by rural communities.
The conference is part of the Rural Catalyst initiative, a collaboration between the Rural Design Center (RDC), which provides RDCIP, and NICRE to address challenges facing rural areas through research, innovation, design and community engagement.
Simon Green, CEO of RDC, summarized the thinking behind the conference and why it is important for the North East.
He said: “Our region has a large rural population, but it covers a huge area. Sometimes this means that the contribution of this population is omitted or assumed to be entirely related to agriculture, which is actually only a small part of the truth.
“Rural areas like Northumberland present different opportunities for economic, environmental and social development than urban areas, but it is essential that we do not lose sight of the differences from village to village, coast to countryside and from former mining villages to affluent suburban towns.
“Rural Catalyst is working with communities in the Northeast to understand these differences. In doing so, the work leads to new ways to address rural challenges and new ways to unlock rural potential.
Melanie Thompson-Glen, NICRE Business Development Manager, said, “The rural economy is diverse, varied and, above all, innovative.
“We have many businesses based in the rural northeast that are innovating at the forefront of their industries, while being at the heart of and supporting their local communities.
“The conference will showcase these businesses while debating topics that are set to play a role in the future of our rural territories. We encourage businesses and community groups to help us shape that future and celebrate innovation in rural business.
Speakers will include experts in rural innovation and development, with Margaret Clark, Chair of the Rural Coalition, and Professor Stephen Roper, Director of the Enterprise Research Centre, giving a national perspective and Dinah Jackson offering a regional view.
Libby Bateman, Rural North Adviser at the Country Land and Business Association, Mike Pratt, Chief Executive of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Jeremy Leggett, Policy Adviser at Action with Communities in Rural England and Kate Baucherel, Digital Strategist will discuss the future of the world Rural North East in a session chaired by Lord Curry of Kirkharle.