The region
About the Living Lab

In Scotland, the Living Lab will look at how to improve the performance of SMEs located in rural areas, by involving SMEs, local administrations and the Scottish Crofting Federation. The Living Lab will assess how digitalisation might impact crofts over the coming years – either positively or negatively.

The Scottish Living Lab is based in an area called Coigach and works with crofting communities, which are common in this part of Scotland. The focus is to identify pathways to the most equitable and beneficial digital futures for these communities.

In the UK, and Scotland in particular, small-scale ‘crofts’ are the prevalent form of land holding in highland and island regions, i.e. remote rural areas.  These holdings are typically pluri-active, and thus play an important role in rural economic development.

The location of crofts makes it difficult to access inputs and market products, training or employment options.  Digital developments offer many opportunities for digital training (e.g. through ‘virtual demonstration’), and increasing land access, thus enabling new entrants to the sector. However, crofts are relatively small farms, and agricultural technologies (or agri-tech) are most likely to be adopted by larger farms.

Living Lab coordinator: The James Hutton Institute
Domain: Rural

Focal question

What are the most appropriate pathways to equitable and beneficial digitalisation for crofting communities in 2030?

  • Bring together a group of stakeholders relevant to the future of crofting communities in the West Coast of Scotland.
  • Explore the past, current and future impacts of digitalisation in this context.
  • Examine barriers and opportunities of digitalisation, identifying appropriate pathways to responsible digital development in this context, to ensure equitable and beneficial outcomes for all stakeholders.
Main stakeholders
  • Business sector: Crofters

  • Farmers’ organisation: CALLP, Crofting Commission

  • Stakeholder organisations: Scottish Crofting Federation, Crofting Commission, EB Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, John Muir Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, Coigach Community Development Company, NFU, SNH.

  • Local citizens: Members of wider crofting community

Key documents
Digital Stories