A workshop with the EU CAP Network 

  • European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture (EIP-Agri) and Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG-Agri)
  • Ireland
  • 2022

The EU CAP Network workshop ‘Young entrepreneurs – Engines of innovation in rural areas’ took place in Dublin, Ireland, on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December 2022. The workshop focused on exchanging knowledge and sharing innovative, inspirational practices that can support young entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in rural areas.

The problem

Rural shrinkage, due to ageing populations and rural out-migration of young people, is on the rise in the EU. Currently, about 30% of the EU’s population lives in rural areas (even less in remote areas) but this share is expected to keep decreasing in coming decades.

Depopulated rural regions often provide lower incomes and fewer job opportunities. Furthermore, the out-migration of younger, skilled workers results in ageing populations, which hinders generational renewal and the development of rural entrepreneurship and business opportunity. As highlighted in the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas of the European Commission, the impact of these negative demographic trends can hamper the change towards development, opportunity and a more sustainable future of rural areas.

Even though rural areas provide significant resources and services, both tangible and intangible (such as natural capital, environmental services, quality of life, culture, tradition and know-how), these are often undervalued, poorly understood and unexplored.

The project

Considering all these factors, the workshop looked into existing instruments and opportunities within the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), and within the Research and Innovation programme Horizon Europe (HE), to support and promote young innovators/entrepreneurs and start-ups in rural communities. The event helped to provide and implement new solutions in rural areas, generating increased interest and employment opportunities, and enriching the quality of life in these areas.

Our contribution

Etifor provided its expertise in developing and implementing innovation and entrepreneurship knowledge exchange and capacity building platforms through Colm O’Driscoll, who coordinated the workshop and designed the approach, contents and methodology for the programme of the two day workshop. It then coordinated the implementation of the activities 

In addition to the designing the programme and coordinating the workshop, Etifor was also asked to analyse the information and discussions of each of the interactive sessions and summarise the lessons learned in order to support the DG Agri in better understanding the needs, challenges and barriers of young entrepreneurs from rural areas around the EU.