Entrepreneurial Spirit: Powering Scotland’s rural economy through innovation

SRUC's focus on place-based initiatives stems from a belief that innovation should be as diverse as the landscape of Scotland itself.

The recent accolades from the OECD report, Enhancing Rural Innovation in Scotland, do more than celebrate our rural advancements; they spotlight the critical role that entrepreneurial skills and place-based initiatives play in shaping the future of Scotland's economy. As SRUC looks ahead to securing taught degree awarding powers in the year ahead, I take confidence and pride in how our institution has become pivotal in nurturing these elements to power our rural communities.

Scotland's rise as a 'strong rural innovator', as noted by the OECD, is a narrative of change and opportunity. It’s not merely about the growth of businesses in rural settings; it’s about the spirit and capability to innovate within these communities. SRUC’s mission is to harness this spirit, fostering a campus environment where entrepreneurial skills are not only taught but also become deeply integrated into the fabric of rural enterprise.

Our focus on place-based initiatives stems from a belief that innovation should be as diverse as the landscape of Scotland itself. By tailoring our programmes to the unique needs of remote and rural areas, we ensure that innovation is not concentrated in urban centres but is widespread, reaching every corner of our country. This approach aligns with the OECD's findings, which emphasise the importance of adapting policies and programmes to support rural entrepreneurship and skills development.

In the wake of the pandemic, we've seen young and small rural firms adopt new ideas at an impressive rate. This agility is central to our teaching here at SRUC, where we encourage a mindset of adaptability. It’s crucial that all who use our work and learn with us are fully equipped not just for the jobs of today but to shape the industries of the future that will power a thriving natural economy.

The OECD's call for a stronger 'rural lens' to improve the delivery of innovation programmes resonates with our strategy. At SRUC, we believe in the power of collaboration between government, business, academia, and communities - a synergy that catalyses growth and resilience. Our aim is to ensure that every SRUC campus is a microcosm of this collaboration; places where ideas are incubated, and enterprises are born that take root in rural communities and generate prosperity.

As we look to the future, digital connectivity remains a vital component of that vision. Addressing the digital divide is paramount to ensuring that rural innovation continues to accelerate. With the Scottish Government’s National Innovation Strategy highlighting the importance of digital markets, SRUC is at the forefront, ensuring our rural enterprises are not left behind but are equipped to compete on a global stage.

Entrepreneurial campuses and place-based initiatives at SRUC are more than educational offerings; they are the engines of change for Scotland’s rural economy. By placing an unwavering emphasis on entrepreneurial skills and fostering an environment where innovation thrives, SRUC is leading the charge to create a sustainable, dynamic, and inclusive economic future for Scotland.

By Wayne Powell, Principal and CEO, SRUC

Posted by Wayne Powell on 13/11/2023

Tags: Agriculture, Biodiversity, Enterprise, Policy, Technology
Categories: SRUC and Campuses | Natural Economy