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Methodological guide for the analysis of local innovation needs

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Whatever their diversity, the rural areas of the European Union are all affected by important changes.

The operational programmes of regions lagging behind in development (Objective 1 regions), rural areas in difficulty (Objective 5b areas) and sparsely populated Nordic areas (Objective 6) enable the European Union to assist and strengthen the rural development policies decided by Member States.

But these transformations which affect rural society also imply seeking new solutions adapted to each area, placing emphasis on innovation, demonstration and transferability. That is today, in the continuation of LEADER I, the main objective of LEADER II.

Each beneficiary of LEADER II had to prepare a "rural innovation programme" but first conduct an initial diagnosis, analyse expected changes and highlight dimensions of innovation and demonstration of the planned actions.

Three elements often characterise these initial analyses:

  • they are too focused on the internal problems of each area;
  • they underestimate the influence of the external constraints which limit local action;
  • they do not sufficiently incorporate the forward-looking dimension which enables one to anticipate the development of the area.

The objectives of the operations initiated in the context of LEADER or equivalent national procedures may be achieved more completely if the internal constraints and the increasingly complex environment in which any local development procedure falls are taken into greater account in the LEADER II beneficiary rural areas.

The objective of this document is therefore to help local development players to further their knowledge of the area and to give an additional dimension to their action placing innovation in a perspective of sustainable development.

This guide, as an instrument of anticipation, should enable:

  • the completion of the initial diagnoses by better taking into account internal and external elements which condition the development of rural areas and oblige local development players to modify their practices;
  • better identification of the main problems facing the area and the means to deal with them;
  • specification of the innovation needs fundamental to the area's indigenous development and to the management of the effects of the contact of the local economy with the outside world;
  • analysis of the innovations implemented in the area;
  • identification of future innovation needs.

This document is intended to deepen the methods proposed in the past, particularly in the context of the LEADER dossier"Implementation of the local development project: the experience of LEADER I" and the"Methodological Guide for the Analysis of an Innovative Action"(available from the LEADER European Observatory).

The collective discussions, exchanges of experiences and transfers of know-how which will take place throughout the implementation of LEADER II will most likely lead to a modification and further development of some of the elements of this document.

This document was prepared following the seminar organized by the LEADER European Observatory on the topic "Methods and tools of permanent area diagnosis" which took place in Serta, Portugal from 15 to 19 November 1995. Those responsible for the final draft are Samuel THIRION (INDE, Lisbon, Portugal), Yves CHAMPETIER, Gilda FARRELL and Jean-Luc JANOT (LEADER European Observatory, Brussels), Renc CASPAR (ESAP, Toulouse, France), Pierre CAMPAGNE (IAM, Montpellier, France).

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