The EU is launching two new large-scale pilot projects to boost rural economies through cross-sector digital service platform. The €30 million initiative, funded through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, focuses on rural digital service platforms, innovation ecosystems and the smart village approach.

More than 50 partners from across Europe will participate in the new Rural Smart Communities innovation actions. The themes of these pilot projects launching in January 2021 are ‘AURORAL: Architecture for Unified Regional and Open digital ecosystems for Smart Communities and wider Rural Areas Large-scale application’ and ‘dRURAL: The service marketplace for European rural areas’.

At the heart of the innovation actions are Smart Villages: communities in rural areas that use innovative solutions to improve their resilience, building on local strengths and opportunities. Their importance is also highlighted in the Declaration of cooperation on “A smart and sustainable digital future for European agriculture and rural areas”, recognising the potential for digital technologies to help tackle important and urgent economic, social, climate and environmental challenges facing the EU’s agri-food sector and rural areas.

Find out more about the projects by joining the opening and the Rural Smart Communities session of the CxC Festival on 13 January 2021, online.