Innovation comes in many forms; from new products, processes and services to new ways of approaching old problems, or developing new business cultures, models and networks. This award celebrates the innovations that have had the greatest impact. Judges will look for evidence of how the innovation has been developed and applied to improve the lives of those living or working in rural locations (for example in pioneering creative responses to the challenges and opportunities surrounding an ageing population, clean growth, mobility of people, goods and services, and the new data economy), while improving businesses’ commercial performance, operational effectiveness or customer engagement. This award will go to the company that can best demonstrate an innovation or innovative approach that has met one or more of the following criteria:
• Transformed or positively impacted rural communities, enterprise or wider industry
• Created competitive advantage
• Contributed to significant business growth and improved overall financial performance.
• Achieved significant improvements in operational excellence.
• Enabled the delivery of new ethical or sustainable practices.
• Helped staff deliver better customer service.
• Increased market share or customer loyalty.
The National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) is an exciting new research, innovation and knowledge exchange initiative designed in collaboration with the Centre for Rural Economy and Business School at Newcastle University, the Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick Business School, the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire and Royal Agricultural University. NICRE is committed to informing policy, and improving existing practice, in tackling society’s grand challenges by fostering the innovation and resilience of rural enterprise and unlocking the potential in rural areas across the UK.
We aim to increase impact on business practices to build improved research and innovation capabilities, increase capacity of rural business owners, equip rural communities with knowledge and evidence to tackle future challenges and to focus on stronger evidence-based policy design, delivery and support.
Put simply – we unlock the potential in the UKs rural economies.
“We at NICRE are delighted to sponsor the Innovation Award. In a year of unprecedented change we have seen true resilience and innovation shine within our rural business communities. Through this category we share some of the most innovative talent from rural areas and are pleased to be part of showcasing their innovative and sustainable business solutions!”
Best Rural Innovation Winners
PM Training and Assessing Ltd
PM Training and Assessing Ltd is a family run business focussed on training and assessing people who work in the Rail Signalling Sector. They deliver this technical training and assessing right across the UK and the world and have worked with a wide variety of companies including Arup, Network Rail, Babcocks, AmeySersa, Siemens, MPI, Coyles, and MECX. The business has created an innovative solution to their specialised area of training by buying an old bus and turning it into a Mobile Technical Classroom – allowing their trainers to travel to employers and colleges across the country instead of learners having to travel to them.
Earthy® Timber design and create artistic wooden tables, furniture and tops. These are truly unique, innovative, earthy-modern pieces for the discerning customer who is ready to invest in an exclusive piece of furniture that will last for generations to come. Earthy® Timber work with the most beautiful British timber with proven provenance. They are proud to guarantee the consistent highest quality of products as they are in complete control of the whole process under their own roof. Also a wood yard, they source, vacuum kiln dry, design and handcraft all pieces in their workshop in Sussex.
Best Rural Innovation Finalists
Easy Animal Ltd
Easy Animal manufacture the best range of innovative, insulated dog kennels. They build a wide range of kennels all from a unique kennel system that offer great thermal qualities, fully structural and with good acoustic properties. These innovative kennels are totally bespoke so they work with clients to achieve a kennel system that will last and perform, all built with high security locks to keep customer’s dogs safe. The Easy Animal range has been designed to deliver long term success for the end user with little maintenance involved, whilst also being good to look at.
Based in the Shetland Isles, Mesomorphic works with SME business leaders to develop software solutions that streamline business processes and increase efficiency. They also work with Digital Entrepreneurs who have new software products to bring to market. Mesomorphic are passionate about engaging the next generation of developers and they have developed an innovative model to introduce digital skills at an early age which supports both students and teachers from primary school through to university level to address the growing digital skills gap in Scotland.
The Ladies Working Dog Group
Rhondda Cynon Taff
The Ladies Working Dog Group is a place where female working dog handlers can connect, support and thrive. Alongside an open access environment, they offer a paid membership option to access further services and products. The community provides a safe, fun space for women across the UK (& other countries) to learn the skills needed to successfully work dogs on shooting estates, on farms, or in any situation where they carry out a rural role. The Ladies Working Dog Group is committed to raising the numbers of women taking part in a pastime that has traditionally been overlooked.
Wanderlust Camper Tours
Wanderlust Camper Tours offer themed guides for ‘staycationers’ and overseas visitors in a campervan. Providing the tourer with inspiration, fantastic ideas, hidden gems, plus uniquely, ‘Secret Stays’ where unusual venues offer the option for an off-the-beaten track overnight stay in exchange for a purchase, creating an exclusive experience whilst supporting local, independent businesses and promoting ethical, responsible tourism. Covering key destinations and themes, the tours feature the region’s best offerings. Saving hours of searching recommendations, the tours provide the ability to cherry pick from flexible options to enjoy in the available timeframe and wrapped up all in one place!
Best Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project
The Sustainability and Environmental Impact Award