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Newsletter #1

December 2019

Depopulation, land abandonment and the loss of biodiversity are changes that may proceed very slowly yet are often irreversible. In order for policymakers to solve these challenges, PoliRural will provide a set of knowledge resources including an inclusive learning environment where rural populations, researchers and policymakers come together to address common problems; an evaluation exercise that uses text mining to assess the perceived effectiveness of past or planned policy interventions; and a foresight study that will collect the development trajectory of agriculture and its allied sectors until 2040 using several scenarios in which the evolution of rural populations occupies a central place.


What is our vision?

Vision is a common denominator of success and survival. A sound living vision, or the lack of it, is what can make or break any endeavour we dive in. Rural regions across Europe are amid ongoing changes that were never expected a few years ago. Migration, depopulation, climate change are just the most visible trends that are currently breaking away the vision of rural idyll from reality.

On behalf of the consortium, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you the PoliRural project that was selected, along with a few other projects in Horizon 2020 Rural Renaissance call, in order to respond to a strong need for tools and insights by those who are responsible for articulating and implementing a new vision for better life in rural areas. In the first issue of PoliRural newsletter, you will learn more about how PoliRural addresses the issues people living in rural areas are facing, and what tools and outputs will enable us to formulate a new, better vision and predict the developments shaping the future. I believe you will enjoy the reading.

Pavel Šimek,
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze, Coordinator

Kick-off Meeting

PoliRural Kick-off Meeting in Prague

The kick-off meeting of the PoliRural project took place on the 19, 20 and 21 of June 2019 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic. The event marked the launch of the project and was a chance for all the partners, project and policy officer, representatives of the European Commission, to meet. Each partner responsible for a specific output of the project presented the tasks and results to be achieved during the project.

Two workshops were also implemented during the kick-off meeting: one concerning rural track and another about the technological track. In the rural track workshop, participants were divided and presented their ideas of rural attractiveness, including aspects such as wellbeing, rural services and infrastructure, and sustainability. In the technological track, differences between deterministic and probabilistic approaches were presented, as well as the software systems that will be used in PoliRural.

In conclusion, the kick-off meeting of the PoliRural project was an enthusiasm-generator for the project, providing valuable information for all the partners and allowing them to meet and share ideas.

Marília Cunha, Sofia Cunha,
Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação

Outputs and Results

PoliRural aims to create a reusable framework built around participatory principles, stakeholder knowledge, big data and advanced analytics that will allow to deliver more accurate foresight for rural regions and contribute to new enhanced policy interventions.

Since the kick-off in June 2019, we have actively been building awareness about PoliRural through the project website and social media channels, as well as by speaking at international conferences and establishing working relationships with sister projects within the Rural Renaissance cluster that also aim to deliver better tools for rural policy making. In the beginning, we published a vision for attractive rural life together with a conceptual and methodological framework for how best to achieving it. We have been working intensely on mapping the current situation in twelve study areas across Europe and Israel. Moreover, our technology partners have been developing tools that will aid researchers and policy makers in gaining a well-rounded view of their regions. The main PoliRural results will be codified in concise Practice Abstracts (ten in total) which will be available for download on the PoliRural website.

If you are passionate about rural development, we encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter or follow PoliRural on Twitter and Facebook. All the latest results and forthcoming events will always appear on our website.

Miloš Ulman,
Česká zemědělská univerzita v Praze, Technical Manager


PoliRural comprises 12 study areas that include all the major regions of Europe (Central, Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western) plus Israel. The selection was guided by a desire to cover a wide range of areas in relation to climate, geography, topography, socio-economic development and political landscape. Such diversity allows PoliRural to better examine the impact and interplay of different influencing factors in various natural environments and institutional settings. Since the start of the project, PoliRural has been building a community of interest around each pilot. Pilots have engaged many different stakeholders with direct knowledge and experience of the region: policy makers, rural populations, representatives of the agro-industry, academics, new entrants, young farmers, to name just a few. Over a hundred stakeholders have expressed interest so far, with many more expected to join in the coming months.

Pavel Kogut, 21c Consultancy

Major Developments in Agriculture Sector

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. 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 for many areas. 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. 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. Collaboration in innovation group has been very fruitful and the project has caught good amount of media coverage.

Project web page: www.digipaali.fi/en 

Ilpo Pölönen,
Häme University of Applied Sciences Bio Research Unit

Developments in Agriculture and its application to PoliRural

Many regions of European routinely employ strategic foresight as part of their policy development process. As a change management tool, it is important for many reasons. These include the localization of aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in line with the specific needs of the region, as a result of the current wave of CAP reform.

The PoliRural project provides an opportunity to improve the range of tools and techniques available to Foresight practitioners, in order to better respond to the challenges that regions face, which tends to evolve in urgency and intensity, year after year. These include:

  • The new needs created by CAP reform,
  • The energy transition,
  • The need to anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate change, not to mention
  • Social inequality, rising costs of living and stagnating incomes.

PoliRural will focus on the development of two categories of tools that can be applied as part of any Foresight process: text mining and machine learning and system dynamic modelling. These will be trialled, refined and validated via a series of 12 regional foresight pilots.

Patrick Crehan,
Crehan, Kusano & Associates


This project has received funding from European Union’s Horizon H2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 818496.


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