European Commission releases the Roadmap for the Adoption of a Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas

On July 2020, the European Commission released a Roadmap for the Adoption of the Communication on the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas. The European Commission aims to create a debate on the future of rural areas and the role they have to play in our society.

This initiative will set out a vision for the future of rural areas by 2040 and gather views covering challenges such as:

  • Demographic change;
  • Connectivity;
  • Low income levels;
  • Limited access to services.


It will also explore innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions in the light of climate and digital transformation and the COVID-19 crisis.


You can find more about this initiative here.

PoliRural Slovak Regional Panel organized a webinar to discuss results and future steps

On 10th June 2020, all Slovak pilot partners of the PoliRural project jointly organized a webinar intended for Regional Panel Members. The main objective was to provide a description of objectives of the PoliRural project, present the available outcomes and make a space for discussion and exchange of views. The different ways of participation of panel members was emphasized as being of crucial importance for the successful implementation of the project. The uniqueness of the Slovak pilot, as the only one covering the territory of the whole country, was highlighted. The panel members appreciated the valuable inputs and contributions of the project for increasing the attractiveness of the Slovak rural areas for life, work and investments.

PoliRural consortium members publish a Paper about Rural Attractiveness

PoliRural consortium has published on May 2020 a paper about Rural Attractiveness, a central issue in PoliRural. There has been a growing interest in assessing the attractiveness of territories, especially rural ones, from the perspective of stakeholders, such existing exiting rural populations, potential newcomers and new entrants.

As part of the PoliRural project, the aim of the presented research was determined – to create the initial vision (i.e. definition) of rural attractiveness by considering factors that influence people’s desire to live and work in rural areas. To that end, a mixed method approach combining qualitative and quantitative techniques was used. The overall research framework was executed in several sequential steps: brainstorming, literature review, survey questionnaire, data analysis, and evaluation. In defining rural attractiveness, two different but interrelated perspectives were considered, one focusing on people, the other on the entire rural ecosystem. During internal survey of project participants—respondents prioritized definitions by assigning points or scores on their preferred definition. Accordingly, an initial vision’s definition of rural attractiveness was created based on the highest assessment score.

You can download the full article in the following link.

Population and Rural Attractiveness, a Sample System Dynamics Model

Polirural objective number 3 is to “explore the future trajectory of rural development in regions using a hybrid foresight approach (quantitative plus qualitative), taking into account both historic and current situation”.


System Dynamic Modelling (SDM), is going to help in the foresight approach. During the first year of project, a template model has been built (SDM edition 1) as well as some sample models to understand the usefulness of the modelling exercise. We are presenting in this article one of the sample models, specifically dealing with Rural Attractiveness, a central issue in Polirural project.


This is not a real model, in the sense that the data running the model are not taken from any local statistics. It is a sample model that considers Rural Attractiveness (RA) as the main factor regulating urban/rural population flows, in both senses (from rural to urban and the other way around).


In the example Rural Attractiveness is defined by two factors: the perception of natural capital and the relative cost of living (comparing cities and rural areas). Every one of these factors has a weight in the final definition of RA, and it can be regulated in the interface.


At the same time Rural Attractiveness is affecting three key variables:

  • Employment: only with a certain level of RA, rural areas will attract people to work there; then RA will be regulating the flow from potential employment to real employment in rural areas.
  • Commuters: RA will define the proportion of urban employed people longing to move to rural areas and commute every day to work.
  • Migration: RA is also defining the proportion of people moving from rural areas to cities.


An interface has been created on which you can adjust variables and see the results. Find below the meaning and scope of the variables.


Potential Population Ratio Moving: Proportion of potential people willing to leave rural areas. It goes from 0 to 30% of the present rural population.

Rural Attractiveness Threshold to Move: what is the value of Rural Attractiveness at which rural population will decide to move? You can vary the RA threshold from 0 to 0,6.


Potential Population Commuting: Proportion of regional population willing to commute for a given RA value. It goes from 0 to 10% of the total regional population.

Rural Attractiveness Threshold to Commute: what is the value of Rural Attractiveness at which commuters will decide to live in rural areas? Again, you can vary RA threshold from 0 to 0,6.


You can go to the interface in the following link. Think of feasible scenarios and run them to see the results, then extract your own conclusions.

PoliRural Innovation Hub

A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) is a multi-actor ecosystem that supports communities in their digital transformation by providing a broad variety of services from a one-stop shop. PoliRural DIH is a member of the DIH network of the SmartAgriHubs project.    


The purpose of the PoliRural Digital Innovation Hub is to design and develop an intelligent innovation center not only for agriculture. This DIH should integrate technology, datasets and libraries in one infrastructure with a complex user-oriented portal in the Web environment. The user portal should provide general principles of the content management framework as well as principles of social space by providing a blog, forum, science shop, wiki pages etc. The DIH should be able to connect end users with developers or researchers to improve the impact of the demo applications or case studies by short-chain feedback from end-users. End users can join larger communities around the DIH to get advice, cooperation potential and access to modern technologies utilization. DIH is open for registration, so everyone can become a regular user and use all supported functionality and tools.

One of the principles is to connect ordinary users with developers and researchers. The second principle is the integration of demo applications, where users, developers and researchers will be able to collaborate, create and test new solutions and experiments.

Currently, this release contains:

  • CMS Liferay with set of Social Tools: science shop, blog post, forum, wiki and library
  • Maps client
  • First demo applications
  • First Pan European Data sets ready for experimentation
  • Cloud based tools for preparing own analysis and managing own data

The prototype of the DIH is based on a cloud solution where Liferay is providing user portal framework and background for front-end applications while OpenStack provides a back-end environment where many libraries for data analyses, data storage and data publishing are installed.

The Map is one of the central functions of the Hub and is based on HSLayers NG, which extends OpenLayers 4 functionality. HSLayers is built in a modular way which enables the modules to be freely attached and removed as far as the dependencies for each of them are satisfied.

Polirural DIH also provides map-based applications:

  • The Best Practices Atlas (BPA) – an interactive web based tool providing easy to find information on the best practices identified on a map and provides easily accessible information to inform and inspire other stakeholders active in the Biobased network.
  • Map of regional attractiveness allows to present the potential of regions from different perspectives (living conditions, tourism, sustainability, economy, regional development, agriculture and landscape, business), to compare the specifics, benefits, shortcomings and opportunities of individual regions, and to show details and overview.


Find out more at:

Coronavirus vaccine being developed at MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Israel

The CEO of MIGAL Galilee Research Institute announced that a new vaccine against a coronavirus, which infects chickens, has brought the MIGAL’s scientists a step closer to developing a preparation to protect against COVID-19. A multi-disciplinary team created an Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine, which has been shown to be effective in pre-clinical trials. The scientists found the bird virus has a similar genetic code too, and infects individuals in the same way, as the deadly new coronavirus in humans. This “increases the likelihood of achieving an effective human vaccine in a very short period of time”. The scientists adjusted the IBV vaccine to the virus which causes COVID-19, and are working on meeting safety standards which will enable them to test it “in-vivo,” or in living organisms. They hope these steps will “enable the initiation of production of a vaccine to counter the coronavirus epidemic currently spreading throughout the world”.

Commenting on the news, David Zigdon, CEO of MIGAL said: “Given the urgent global need for a human coronavirus vaccine, we are doing everything we can to accelerate development. We are currently in intensive discussions with potential partners that can help accelerate the in-human trials phase and expedite the completion final product development and regulatory activities.”

Mr. Ofir Akunis, Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, congratulated the team on this exciting breakthrough. “I am confident that there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat,” he said.

Many media reporters around the world came to the MIGAL Institute in Kiryat Shmona to review the scientific activity at the institute for the development of the coronavirus vaccine. After the broadcast networks in the country extensively covered what was defined as a scientific breakthrough in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, a foreign correspondent also came. Hundreds of foreign reporters visited MIGAL’s research labs at the Tel Hai industrial park to hear about the important discovery that could lead to the creation of a corona virus vaccine.

As widely published, researchers at the Institute have been developing a vaccine against the corona for poultry. However, when the corona epidemic broke out, the Institute began to make the vaccine adjustments so that it could accommodate humans as well.

Journalists from around the world from the US, Germany, China, Russia, France, Australia, Canada, and even an Iranian TV channel based in London interviewed David Zigdon, CEO of the MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute and researchers.

The main idea is to develop industries, based on the research outputs from MIGAL and other institutes in the Galilee, which will remain in the region and develop the conditions for high-level jobs and regional economic development. Rural policy has had to evolve beyond the traditional, sector-based model, with its almost exclusive focus on agriculture. Today rural development policies are embracing more strategies that have a spatial context, that give priority to investments over subsidies, and that encourage a partnership-based, multi-stakeholder policy design and implementation framework.

At its core, the MIGAL’s approach to rural development represents a rural policy that is grounded in current rural conditions and opportunities in rural areas. MIGAL is located the most peripheral region of Israel, not far from the Lebanese border. MIGAL reinforce the trend to increase multi-sectoral, place-based strategies that identify and better exploit the development potential of rural areas in diverse directions. It is widely believed at the Galilee region that the future prosperity of rural regions will be driven by enterprise, innovation, and new technologies, tailored to markets and applied to new and old industries. The economic crisis that erupted with the corona virus epidemic presented a moment to reflect on this, specifically to widespread these approaches with the best potential to enhance future rural development.

Coordination meeting with Horizon 2020 Projects, including PoliRural

On January 9, occurred a coordination meeting with Horizon 2020 projects, including PoliRural, DESIRA H2020 – Digitalisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas (, and Ruralization ( DESIRA aims to improve the capacity of society and political bodies to respond to the challenges and opportunities that digitalisation generates in rural areas, agriculture and forestry. The project is developing a methodology and knowledge base that makes it easier to access the past, current and future socio-economic impacts of ICT-related innovation. Ruralization is a 4 years EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme, focused on the study of problems related to rural regeneration and access to land, and the implementation of policies and activities that facilitate the entry of new generations and newcomers to the farming sector. 

In this meeting, many synergies were found among the Horizon 2020 projects, and a combination of information, practices and activities will be developed in the short term. The Research Executive Agency and the organization EU Agriculture also participated in the event.

Sustainable Hub to Engage into Rural Policies and Actors – Sherpa

Digital bale – more efficient usage and life cycle management for silage bales

A good example of a project where collaboration between grassroot level stakeholders and research institute has been fruitful is Digipaali (Digital bale) project in Finland. The project works regionally in Häme but has national, and even international goals. In Digital bale project, researchers and farmers work together to solve and to develop digital applications for feed bales. The goal of the project is to develop a digital tracking and storing system for feed bales.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was chosen to identify each bale. This project is a typical, new application of digitalization. The technology itself has been developed already years ago and is in use in many areas, contactless payment being the most common. Sensors of baling machine and the reader of RFID tag (in each bale) sends bale information to the Digital bale processor that combines the data and sends it to the server (cloud). For the farmer, the most important data of each bale are bale weight, dry matter and GPS coordinates i.e. map view where bales can be seen. Digital bale helps farmer in bookkeeping of the balecrop, in feed formulation, makes bale trade easy and helps in planning farming in general.

The project is funded by Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland 2014–2020 under the EIP-Agri framework. The project is managed by HAMK Bio Research Unit of Häme University of Applied Sciences, but as typical for EIP-Agri project, the project leans on innovation group, having dairy farmers and baling contractors important members. Collaboration in innovation group has been very fruitful and the project has caught good amount of media coverage, articles in newspapers and professional publications, television, radio and internet due to farmers involvement and commitment.


More info of the project is available at:

PoliRural presented in “Beyond Alliance for Knowledge (BAK)” Seminar in Hämeenlinna

PoliRural project was presented in Beyond Alliance for Knowledge (BAK) seminar in Hämeenlinna on 26th November. The theme of the research seminar was Sustainable Society and Technology. The seminar demonstrated how solutions are found to global problems in the multidisciplinary area of smart and sustainable living. PoliRural was presented in a session of Environment and Digital Policies. Other topics in this session were Sustainability in higher education institute – case HAMK, Smart Tavastia 2018-2021 introduction of smart specialization strategy of Häme region and Circular economy: an approach for organic waste management in Brazilian urban areas.

Beyond Alliance for Knowledge (BAK) is a strategic international alliance of Häme University of Applied Sciences in Finland, VIA University College in Denmark and Feevale University in Brazil. The universities cooperate in the areas of research and education. In the seminar there were audience and presentations from each university and seminar was streamed online. Target group of the seminar was researchers, teachers and students of partner universities.

More info of the event is available at: