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News announcement12 April 2022Joint Research Centre

Start-up villages: a commitment to a long-term vision for rural areas

European Start Up Village Forum
© EU 2022

Today Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, meets a dozen representatives of villages and rural areas that host start-ups, specialised, among others, in energy and food and agri-system innovation. The Commissioner uses the opportunity to discuss with representatives of rural communities their needs to generate favourable conditions to attract businesses, pull investments for innovative projects, and create local job opportunities.

The virtual meeting today follows the launch event of the Startup Village Forum in November 2021 and the first results of the call for pledges. It will provide a unique opportunity to connect startup villages across the EU with the heart of the EU policy making and to develop a dialogue between European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, local authorities and entrepreneurs, on how innovation in rural areas can help tackle key challenges such as depopulation, food security and energy autonomy.

Role of the Joint Research Centre

JRC has been tasked to act as a knowledge manager and to connect multiple stakeholders united in reviving rural communities, to promote knowledge exchange and cooperation activities. It will facilitate the StartUp Village Forum network aimed to be an open space where institutions and stakeholders can meet, discuss and shape action for startup-driven innovation in rural areas.

Furthermore, JRC aims to collect the commitment of public and especially private organisations to support Startup Villages. To achieve this goal, a call for pledges has been launched. This call is open for pledges that can offer financial but also in-kind support, such as provision of co-working spaces, IT infrastructure or expertise, coaching, mentoring or training, aiming at creating startups and job opportunities.

Why rural areas?

Rural areas are a core component of the European way of life and identity. Yet, in recent decades, social, economic, and demographic transformations such as globalisation, urbanisation and ageing have challenged rural communities. The COVID-19 pandemic’s asymmetric impact on European territories has added uncertainty to vulnerability – while opening promising new perspectives as economies adapt and people look to a better quality of life.

In this context, rural areas can turn vulnerabilities into opportunities. The long-term vision for rural areas recognises the enabling role of innovation to empower citizens and entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities. A flagship action on research and innovation for rural communities aims to help tackle the challenges and reap the opportunities for wellbeing and growth.


On 30 June 2021, the European Commission set out a long-term vision for EU’s rural areas. The vision identifies several areas of action towards stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous rural areas by 2040.

The StartUp Village Forum was launched on 16 November 2021. Bringing science-based and community-based knowledge and experiences together with high-level political traction, the launch offered insights on the different dimensions of rural innovation ecosystems and the challenges and potentials for startup creation and development in rural areas.

The launch opened collaborative conversations about these themes. These exchanges will continue during the upcoming edition of the Startup Village Forum that will take place in September 2022.

Related content

Event: Commissioner Gabriel meets Startup Villages

StartUp Village Forum



Publication date
12 April 2022
Joint Research Centre