The Food and Agriculture Organization of thee United Nations (FAO) is one of the 33 partners in a European Union funded project called Collaboration @ Rural (C@R) (1) led by TRAGSA in Spain. The aim of the C@R project is to develop and test a Living Labs collaborative platform in rural areas to stimulate rural development through open, people-driven innovation, utilizing Living Labs (2) as collaborative working environments.
The Living Labs programme is an initiative supported by the European Commission Framework 7 Programme based on open innovation to empower citizens and civil society to influence the development of innovative services & products that eventually can benefit the whole of society.
The C@R consortium consists of 33 partners working in the development of six different Rural Living Labs in Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Spain and South Africa. Local needs were accessed and innovative processes are being developed in each one of them. Living Lab pilots are being carried out in fisheries, agriculture, food grocers, tourism, health, public administration (e-governance), commerce, and business incubation.
One of the goals of the C@R project is to make an impact on rural development policy based on tangible results such as new business creation or participative public services offered to rural citizens, are emerging. Policy makers have been involved throughout the duration of the project and have helped in developing a methodological approach for exploring ways to assess the impact on rural development policies.
Besides the publications of scientific papers and the C@R book, the scaling-up activities of the C@R project include the use of the methodological framework in other EU funded projects on Territorial Innovation such as the Med Lab project (3), the establishment of new partnerships to support the Rural Development programmes, which will be featured in an international conference in Rome in January 2011.
(1) C@R Website http://www.c-rural.eu/
(2) EC Living Labs http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/livinglabs/index_en.htm
(3) MedLab Website http://www.medlivinglab.eu/