Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) - Final Conference

Alan Robertson

In February, Alan Robertson (the SRN Network Manager) attended the final conference of the Horizon 2020 project “Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas” (SIMRA).  Of course, this was before the impact of COVID-19 and our intention to update readers about the event was quickly overtaken by the need to switch to COVID-19 response messaging and support including establishment of the SRN COVID-19 hub.   Nine months down the line we thought it would be an opportune time to revisit the event and share outputs from the conference.

Since starting in 2016, the Horizon 2020 project has been at the forefront of promoting the contribution of social innovation to social, economic and environmental development in disadvantaged rural areas. As a transdisciplinary research project, SIMRA has managed to address numerous facets such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, etc. 

The final conference was held in Brussels on 19 and 20 February 2020. This two-day event comprised a full-day policy conference and a half-day training workshop about tools and approaches developed in the SIMRA project, including project evaluation methodologies.  

During the final conference, many of the project’s main findings were presented and their implications for policy at all levels (EU, national, regional and local) were discussed.  There were also several fascinating presentations from a range of stakeholders who presented on their projects: ranging from a Catalonian Forest Defence Group to The Growing Club, a Lancashire and Cumbria based group who have developed an alternative model for business training and coaching of women entrepreneurs coming from socially disadvantaged backgrounds (further social innovation examples can be found here).

SIMRA has strong Scottish connections with both University of Highlands and Islands and The James Hutton Institute being partners in the project and with the closing remarks for the event delivered by Bill Slee (The Rural Development Company Limited).  

There is a wealth of resource and reference material available at the following links:


 SIMRA (198.36 kb)