The National Rural Conference 2023 Conference Supporter - NICRE

The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) puts knowledge to work for an enterprising countryside… combining research with practical innovation to find new ways of unlocking potential and supporting thriving rural businesses and communities.

Watch our animation to find out how.

Our success so far includes:

  • Finding out how businesses are adapting in our second large-scale survey of rural and farming firms. This year’s State of Rural Enterprise Survey is seeking the views of around 3,200 firms in the North East, South West and West Midlands on aspects including the impact of the cost-of-doing-business crisis, response to the climate emergency and the availability of skills/labour in the rural economy. Results are expected later in the year.
  • Providing policy, business and rural stakeholders with national insight into rural businesses’ experiences of infrastructure quality and networks and their response to Covid-19.
  • Commissioning research from a variety of UK universities to examine how rural enterprises are adapting to the challenges affecting the rural economy. This year these include exploring co-working as a potential diversification opportunity for rural pubs, whether ‘investment zone’ approaches will help to meet the needs of rural enterprise and natural capital investment markets.
  • Providing an evidence base for combined and local authorities on the contribution and potential of rural enterprise, informing their investment priorities and business support programmes for UK Shared Prosperity and Levelling Up.
  • Contributing evidence and insight to All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Rural Business and the Rural Powerhouse into Levelling Up the Rural Economy and cost of living in rural areas and Geographically Protected Foods on Protected Foods and Drink Name Policy in the UK.
  • Addressing challenges around transition to net zero by working directly with communities on grassroots innovation projects such as solar-powered community buildings in Northumberland and a future Dynamic Procurement System for public food procurement in Gloucestershire.
  • Showcasing innovation in rural enterprise and communities through a series of videos of businesses which portray the rich diversity of the rural economy and our innovation portal.
  • Supporting rural businesses to understand how resilient their firm is through our practical online Resilience toolkit.
  • Trialling a Rural Business Beacons network to gather insights from rural businesses and channel their voice straight to policy makers.
  • Supporting businesses to adapt in a changing workplace to attract, retain and engage employees by providing resources in our online Future of work
  • Publishing research on a range of areas affecting rural businesses including access to external finance, workplace mental health, microclustering of creative firms and producing sustainable, local, healthy food.
  • Helping to inform policy by publishing two major Briefing Papers calling on Government to harness rural economies’ extensive and diverse contributions in Levelling Up, and continuing to provide evidence and briefings to central government.
  • Working with Building Digital UK to enable firms to share their views on rural broadband connection and the effect it has on their businesses.
  • Helping tackle digital exclusion by working with partners to boost skills and confidence in rural communities.
  • Helping to empower rural women innovators by co-leading a Living Lab in Scotland as part of a major European project
  • Hosting multiple knowledge exchange events, such as the Rural Catalyst Conferencewith the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project, to spotlight the issues that rural residents and businesses face, and the partnership work taking place to address these.

Find out more

To find out more about NICRE, visit our website, follow us on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook), or email 


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