LabR is a pilot project to be implemented in Castilla la Mancha, one of the Spanish regions most affected by rural depopulation. By combining customary social science methods (interviews or desk research) with design methods (design thinking and speculative design), LabR allows local communities to articulate their perspectives on future solutions based on current needs. Through open innovation, collaboration and citizen participation, the project wants to enhance the added value of rural areas.
LabR will be implemented in the provinces of Cuenca and Guadalajara, Castilla La Mancha region.
Castilla La Mancha faces a demographic challenge in rural areas, leading to demobilized and destabilized local communities, with aging population, lack of opportunities for young people, closing business, affecting the local supply of services. Since 2000, the loss of population in the region affected more than 25% of its inhabitants. In almost 40% of municipalities the population fall has exceeded 25%.
The pandemic crisis evidenced the added value of rural areas and their high wealth potential, but also the need to offer a different response to rural development. In a new post-epidemiological context, with a foreseeable economic crisis, it becomes critical to promote actions that enhance collaboration and integrate innovation and local attributes in rural developement.
The methodologies used in the LabR project framework are based on open innovation and citizen participation. Through co-creation spaces, the project empowers local communities to participate in rural development processes in a meaningful way. Therefore, all relevant actors benefit from the project since it establishes a space where they can contribute with new ideas to the grouth of their communities. All of them have a vision and knowledge of the territory that they can share for a joint solution, but also needs that must be known and taken into account in a future rural developement strategy. Special emphasis will be made on the participation of the elderly and young people, two groups especially affected by the depopulation of rural areas.
During the project, it is intended to carry out 2 workshops in each province, with 40 participants per workshop, making a total of 160 participants. The participants in the workshops will be made up of representatives of social organizations, particularly, youth and elderly associations, regional rural development networks, local business and public representatives.
Likewise, a working group will be formed with the participation of 40 people. The working group will be formed by local and regional public servants, academics, as well as national experts and public servants from other Spanish regions (with experience in sustainable development).
Local context exploration: collecting and analysing data through desk research, surveys and interviews. An online working group will be created to identify trends, provide inputs, promote the collaboration of actors and publicize the project.
Definition of 2 future scenarios (per province): interrogating the future and providing different conceptions of what the future would look like in 2035.
Experimentation: in 4 workshops where local actors will identify challenges and opportunities facing their region, using the “visioning” technique.
Prototyping rural development strategies with the working group, allowing the identification and promotion of future actionable projects.
Communication and awareness to scale the project to other regions.
Project results: 2 status report (determining fields of action and the current situation for the sustainable development, activities developed in the identified areas); 1 working group with 40 participants; 4 future scenarios (two for each province);4 experimentation workshops with 160 participants; 2 final toolboxes (with prototypes of rural development strategies); 1 dissemination plan and communication activities.
Project outputs: new cooperation in pilot areas identified during the project and actionable projects; prototypes that could inform future development planning activities in the region; the necessary knowledge for public institutions in order to apply innovation and participation in policy making; network of innovative rural areas to transfer knowledge produced in LabR.
More than half of the EU’s land area is classified as predominantly rural and more than one fifth of the EU’s population lives in rural regions. Rural areas in Europe are economically and demographically very important. However, continuous urbanization of European cities has determined that rural communities are gradually isolated.
In order to reconnect local rural communities and achieve their full potential we must count with their participation. The project approach starts from the idea that rural communities understand their context and needs, are the best equipped to identify and target the problems they face. LabR provides the spaces to articulate these ideas and problems, putting local actors at the heart of rural development and empower them to take action.
LabR project was born from NovaGob Foundation ecosystem approach in order to create networks and achieve participatory governance in Spain. NovaGob is committed to enhance open innovation - in which all key actors participate and collaborate to generate public value. We aim to be changemakers and transform public sector making it more open, civic, participatory, transparent, collaborative and efficient. Through its govlab, NovaGob addresses pressing societal problems applying open innovation, fostering collective intelligence through the participation of all innovation ecosystem actors (employees of the public sector, private sector, academia and citizens) who contribute with ideas and experiences in an open working environment.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: 23.000€
Office and organization expenses: 2.300€
Travel and accommodation: 5.000€
Communication and project dissemination: 5.400€
For the budget difference between the total project expenditures and the amount requested in this Idea Challenge NovaGob Foundation has applied for funding from the Montemadrid Foundation. If the financing is not granted, the Foundation will cover the expenses of its own funds.
Any feedback to improve our project will be welcomed!
We are really grateful for the work of Civic Europe and the opportunity to participate in this challenge!