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