Experts turn attention to growing rural digital economy

SRUC and Rural England have been commissioned by Amazon to examine how to grow the rural digital economy. Picture: Craig Stephen
SRUC and Rural England have been commissioned by Amazon to examine how to grow the rural digital economy. Picture: Craig Stephen
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While there has been a lot of noise about the potential offered by internet technology and the digital economy to level the growing urban/rural divide, there has been little research carried out to identify where the real the snags and opportunities lie.

However, Scotland’s Rural College, SRUC, and Rural England, the countryside think-tank, have been commissioned by internet giant Amazon to carry out a major consultation with the aim of better targeting research into how to grow Britain’s rural digital economy.

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Alongside official statistical data, interviews with key stakeholder groups and economic analysis, the responses to the consultation will be used to identify the level of digital skills and capabilities in rural areas – and how these can be improved in the future.

The research also hopes to discover what digital business tools and services were most needed to improve rural businesses – and what would be required to encourage more businesses to settle in rural areas.

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In addition it hopes to pinpoint which type of businesses had most to gain – and which areas of the country currently lead the field in digital access for business.

“We know that there are major digital infrastructure challenges in many parts of rural Scotland,” said Jane Atterton of the SRUC’s rural policy centre.

“This research is focusing on how we can grow the potential of Britain’s digital economy by looking at where digital infrastructure is being used effectively by businesses.”

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