The Scaling the Rural Enterprise project seeks to exploit digital technologies to promote rural enterprises in India and Wales.
The Horizon team is leading an international team including the Centre for Technology and Development in New Delhi, the Future Interaction Technology Lab at Swansea University, IIT Bombay, NISTADS in New Delhi, alongside industrial partners including Microsoft Research India, and IBM Research Laboratory in India.
Although a world apart, organic food producers in Ceredigion in west Wales and non-edible oil producers in Uttarakhand in the foothills of the Himalayas both increasingly struggle to get a decent price for their goods. One reason for this is that these communities both lack the scale to maximise their position in an increasingly global market place.
The sustainability of small communities is a huge issue in rural areas. Rural enterprises in both the UK and India struggle without the communication and distribution infrastructures found in urban-industrial areas.
The project will develop new technologies to allow communities to shape the next generation of rural enterprises. This will allow rural enterprises to achieve the economies of scale and retain control of the supply chain dynamics that currently work against them.
Mobile technologies have already allowed rural communities across the world greater access to information and expertise, leading to the creation of new local enterprises. The next challenge is helping these communities exploit these technologies to coordinate their activities in order to scale up the levels of production and compete on a level playing field with urban enterprises.