The ERC are pleased to announce that they are partners in a new National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE), which is to be launched on 1st September this year, funded by Research England. The new Centre will support enterprise, resilience and innovation among rural firms and aim to unlock the untapped potential of rural economies across the UK. The ERC will be working with experts from Newcastle, Warwick, Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural Universities at the Centre, which will work with businesses, policy makers, enterprise agencies and communities.

In England alone, rural businesses comprise over half a million enterprises, 3.6 million employees and contribute over £260 billion to GDP.  Yet despite this, they are still largely underexplored and underutilised. Through the NICRE, the aim is to help build the capabilities of policy makers, support agencies, rural businesses and their advisers to create resilient and sustainable economies fit for the 21st century.

“A thriving rural economy is crucial to the future prosperity, well-being and resilience of communities across the UK” says Centre Director Jeremy Phillipson, Professor of Rural Development at Newcastle University.  “The need to encourage and release the dynamism and untapped potential of rural areas is even greater now with the combined uncertainty of Brexit and impacts of Covid-19 and what the implications will be, not just for rural areas, but for the UK economy as a whole.”

Although the decision to fund NICRE was taken before the outbreak of Covid-19, its work will help to understand the ongoing impacts of the virus in rural areas and inform recovery. Although the Centre will begin its work formally this September, the current crisis means the ERC and the other partners are already working to support the national response to the pandemic.

A key focus for NICRE will be to identify and release rural contributions to our country’s long term challenges and opportunities – an ageing society, need for clean growth, future mobility and the data revolution – identified as Grand Challenges in the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

Further information about NICRE is available at

NICRE is funded by Research England ( and its founding University partners.  It is led by and builds on the internationally recognised expertise of three leading University research centres – Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle (, the Enterprise Research Centre at Warwick ( and the Countryside and Community Research Institute ( at Gloucestershire and Royal Agricultural Universities. NICRE also draws in expertise from Newcastle University Business School (