20th June 2016, 11:56am
Rural enterprise: exploring the challenges and opportunities
Rural conference The entrepreneurial flair of rural businesses has been examined in a conference at the University of Lincoln, UK, which highlighted how innovative ways of working are creating new opportunities across local economies.

The 14th Rural Entrepreneurship Conference featured first-person accounts from rural business owners who have developed novel ways to put themselves ahead of more visible city-based enterprises, as well as academic research on a range of topics which examine the challenges and best practice of rural businesses.

The three-day conference, organised by specialists in rural enterprise at Lincoln International Business School, covered topics from agro-tourism, rural festivals, and financing for social enterprises, to local services, rural broadband and technology, and micro-breweries.

Other topics explored international issues including the diversification of farming in New Zealand, how SMEs in Nigeria compete with larger organisations, the changing culture of entrepreneurship with the Maasai people in Kenya, and marketing fresh produce in the USA.

Around 60 people, ranging from students and academics to businesses and charities attended the event, which began with the Northern Advanced Research Training Initiative (NARTI), a doctoral training session sponsored by a group of universities. This was followed by an evening dinner and talks hosted by the award-winning Lincolnshire-based social enterprise, Hill Holt Wood.

Horncastle Ales brewed a special conference beer for the event, and Peter Couchman, CEO of charity The Plunkett Foundation, delivered a keynote address. The charity helps set up and run life-changing community co-operatives in rural areas to combat social isolation and economic decline.

Dr Gary Bosworth from Lincoln International Business School said: “Our rural communities are such an important part of Britain’s identity. But in a changing business climate, companies – particularly rural ones – have to think in ever more innovative ways to maximise profit without the benefits afforded to city-based firms such as good transport links, high visibility and high footfall.

“We know that there are some excellent examples of businesses demonstrating that entrepreneurial spirit which makes them stand out from the crowd in this country and abroad, but we also know where the barriers lie.

“This conference gave us an opportunity to hear from people with direct experience of making their business work, and discuss the opportunities and challenges  facing the rural business market.”

Details on the conference can be found at: http://rec2016.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/
--Ends--