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Support systems for new activities in rural areas

Part 2 - Individual services
Technological support

How to use this guide & Table of Contents


Some LEADER groups use small structures are
able to adapt the advantages of state-of-the-art
technology to local needs. In this respect,
product design and financial engineering are
two testing grounds for project promoters that
are likely to be the subject of cooperation
between local action groups.


Common problems and bottlenecks Recommendations and guidelines
  • Very few LEADER groups have the capacity to provide technological back-up to new activities. Equipment, staff and training tend to be both expensive and very specific. These can normally only be recouped over a far larger area than that covered by most LEADER groups.
  • The main technological support required is one-off advice and in some cases testing, quality control and small improvements in product and process adaptation.
  • Some collective private or public projects have set up their own technological advice systems which can be used for small firms from the same sector (1).
  • Training centres, technical colleges, "school-workshops", etc. can often be used.
  • Many rural areas are far away from training centres (universities, institutes of technology, specialised private companies, etc.).
  • Despite their considerable human and technical resources, these centres often have little capacity for effectively dealing with a host of very specific requests concerning small adjustments to products and processes, for example.
  • The key factor seems to be the technologists' ability to listen to and communicate with project promoters in order to adapt existing technology to local conditions.
  • It is essential that any facilities are demand rather than technology led and are not there just for the sake of it.
  • The equipment required varies according to each sector of activity but need not necessarily be that extensive or expensive (2).
    The LAG can help carry out audits of the real technology needs of firms in their area and locate internal and external sources of expertise. There is a role for possible cooperation between LEADER groups.

(1) This, for example, is the case of some of the cheese cooperatives in the French Pyrenees or the Union of Cooperatives of the Jerte Valley in Spain, or even vocational training centres in the Farm Products Network in France (see the directory "Innovative actions of rural development", LEADER European Observatory / AEIDL, 1997).

(2) For example, between ECU 50 000 and 120 000 for small laboratories and testing facilities for meat and cheese production in projects in the French Basque Country.

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