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Business Experts Set to Tackle the Rural Digital Divide
Published: 7th February 2018, 12:58pm
Interreg North Sea Region CORA A team of researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, have been awarded £200,000 as part of an international project to tackle the digital divide between rural and urban areas in the North Sea region of Europe.

The research forms part of a wider project, ‘Connecting Remote Areas with digital infrastructure and services’ (CORA), which aims to stimulate digital infrastructure, services and skills in rural areas to make them more attractive to businesses and families.  

The project brings together a transnational consortium of 18 organisations from across seven European countries bordering the North Sea, including universities, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities.  

Each of the consortium partners, including economic development specialists from the University of Lincoln, will work to help local authorities to identify common challenges and empower them to exchange experiences, test innovative solutions, and enhance digital infrastructure

The research team at Lincoln, led by Liz Price, Research Fellow in the University’s Lincoln International Business School, will investigate the lack of digital infrastructure, services and skills in the most remote and rural areas of the UK and partner regions, seeking potential solutions and identifying training programmes to improve digital skills.

They will carry out a detailed survey of broadband connectivity and barriers to broadband adoption, and interview those involved in the delivery of broadband solutions and activities to improve the digital skills of businesses and communities, before putting the project’s recommendations forward to EU policymakers.
  
Liz Price, said: “For businesses, digital connectivity is essential for increasing business innovation and productivity, and for communities it provides important access to a range of opportunities and services, from home-working and online shopping to video streaming. Despite this, many rural businesses and communities experience a ‘digital divide’, where they are unable to access the same breadth of digitally-enabled services as those in urban areas.

“The CORA project will explore new approaches to improving digital connectivity in these areas, providing the opportunity to benchmark the UK and its EU neighbours with international standards, and influence future digital strategies and broadband technology policies.”

The project has been joint funded by the European Union’s Interreg North Sea Region programme and the University of Lincoln, with each contributing £100,000 to the project.

To find out more about the CORA project, visit the Interreg North Sea Region at www.northsearegion.eu/cora/.
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