The birth of a great European rural innovation initiative

On Tuesday, 6th of April, the new European rural innovation initiative REinA (Rural European Innovation Area) was launched. An initiative created with the aim of reducing the gap between the two sides of Europe and Spain, a growing and thriving urban side opposite to the empty, rural and deprived of a true future.

REinA is an open platform that arises from the need to gather initiatives supporting the creation of a new European Area for Rural Innovation. REinA’s objective is to become the loudspeaker for European rural areas, motivating their development, growth, businesses and natural resources through by means of a fair, green and sustainable management with the support of the European Commission.

The launch of this initiative, promoted by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Ms. Mariya Gabriel and Startup OLÉ has reached extraordinary numbers and speakers: more than 60 great speakers spurred on with their contributions and experiences a total of thirteen round tables that included the opening and closing, among others. The event was attended by the Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, Ms. Dubravka Šuica and two European Commissioners, Ms Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth and Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner for Agriculture. Likewise, two general directors of general directors of the European Commission were present, Mr. Mario Nava, General Director of DG. REFORM (Structural Reform Support) from the European Commission and Mr. Normundus Popens, DG. REGIO (Regional and Urban Policy) from the European Commission.

Also, three prominent members of the European Parliament participated in this launch, Mr. Cristian-Silviu Buşoi, Chair of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), Mrs. Mazaly Aguilar, Vice-Chair of Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (AGRI) and Mr. Victor Negrescu, Vice-Chair of Culture and Education Committee.

The even also had prominent speakers such as the General Director of the Civil Guard, Mrs. María Gamez, the State Secretary for the Valoraisation of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion of the Government of Portugal, Mrs. Isabel Ferreira, Enagás’ CEO, Mr Marcelino Oreja, the President of RTVE, Mr. Jose Manuel Pérez Tornero, the CEO of Enisa, Mr. José Bayón, the President of the Governing Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Ms. Gioia Ghezzi, the Rector of the University of Salamanca, Mr. Ricardo Rivero, the CEO and Founder of Cabify, Mr. Juan de Antonio and the Executive Director of Startup Portugal, Mr. Joao Mendes Borga, the President of Axon Partners Group, Mr. Francisco Velazquez, among others. The Professor of the University of Salamanca, CEO and Founder of Startup Olé Emilio Corchado acted as masters of ceremonies.

The platform has the support of more that seventy partners from seventeen different countries. Some of these collaborators are the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), RTVE, Enagás, Enisa, the Civil Guard, Tragsa Group, Elewit, Hispasat, Impulsa Visión RTVE, ONCE Foundation, the Red Cross along with the Social Technologies Foundation (TECSOS), Cabify, Startup Portugal, Ship2B Foundation, the Spanish Startups Assosiation (AES), InnMind, Axon Partners Group, Encomenda Smart Capital, Sego Finance Group, SociosInevrsores, Ship2B Ventures, AC Venture (ACV_VC), EIT Food, SVG Ventures|THRIVE, Grow Remote, Accenture, Foundation, the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), NUI Galway, Innovhub SSI, the Business Development Institute (iED), René de Jong Inversiones S.L., Lombardy Green Chemistry Association, Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, Instituto de Investigación Rural y Comunitaria (CCRI), Amazon Web Services,  Ministry of Programming, Agrotech España, Iberdrola, Plačiajuostis Internetas, Agency for the Development of the District Larnaca and Famagusta, ADEZOS, ADRISS Sierras de Salamanca, ADECOAR, ADECO BUREBA, FADEMUR, Elcampus360, Dulanto Comunicación, Business Insider, the European Assosiation for Rural Development (ELARD), the International Institute of Intrapreneurship and  Salamanca, Burgos, Córdoba and Huelva Council Offices.

Topics discussed covered new opportunities for rural communities for innovation, through rural outsourcing, technology companies, creative and cultural industries; the active role of the European Union and other international institutions in innovation in rural communities, including coastal areas; disruptive technologies for rural innovation: drones, innovative connectivity solutions; services for the well-being of rural dwellers provided by rural innovation ecosystems; modern bioeconomy sectors for rural innovation; agriculture, livestock, forestry and fisheries for a modern and innovative rural community; how to develop rural innovation ecosystems, including coastal areas to attract and retain women in rural communities; rural community training to develop local innovation capabilities, among others.

The Manifiesto on rural innovation, which already has more than 1,000 adherents and is structured in five thematic blocks such as Skills and talent; Culture and mindset change; Connecting innovation actors; Attractive work environment for young professionals and Intellectual leadership: follow-up, was also presented at the event. All in all, the launch of REinA has been confirmed as one of the largest rural innovation events ever organized at European level.

The matchmaking rounds that connect investors, corporations and institutions with innovative startups and SMEs are held in the Burgos town of Villahoz on April 7. These have also been a great success since their inception, with the participation of eighteen investment funds and approximately one hundred startups, which together starred in a total of seventy meetings. Among the participating corporations, investors and institutions are Enagás Emprende, Hispasat, Elewit, Axon Partners, AC_VC, René de Jong Inversiones S.L., ENISA, Socios Inversores, RTVE Impulsa Visión, Encomenda Smart Capital, Cruz Roja together with Fundación Tecnologías Sociales (TECSOS), Cabify, Grupo Sego Finance, EIT Food, Ship2B, SHIP2B Companies, Iberdrola and Keiretsu.

Following the success of the launch, these activities will continue over time, with the second date of concrete actions being the celebration of Startup OLÉ 2021 in Salamanca, September 8-10, 2021, which will connect the growing REInA community with the different actors that are part of the Startup OLÉ technology community.