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This book presents the main results achieved during four years of work carried out by the C@R (Collaboration at Rural) consortium. The C@R project promotes sustainable rural development through innovative ICT services enabling new forms of collaboration, and proposes a new approach of creating innovation ecosystems called "living labs" tailored to rural development needs. This approach was implemented in various rural areas targeting sectors such as fishery, agriculture, logistics, retail, public services or government.
The mission of C@R originates from the fact that 90% of European Union territory is categorized as rural. Thus these areas potentially constitute a key opportunity for European entrepreneurship, business creation and public-private partnerships for innovation and socio-economic development. Moreover, the characteristics and local conditions of rural environments make them an excellent opportunity for sustainable growth built upon ICT-based innovation. The current situation in rural areas is characterized by missing opportunities for employment and professional development and by migration to cities due to a lack of investments, qualified jobs and absence of services. While the level of communication infrastructure and services operated in rural areas is often inadequate, many rural areas are slowly adopting ICT-based solutions.
The C@R project has made a significant contribution to the development and implementation of methodological framework for human-centric open innovation in living labs.