Event - Workshop

EU CAP Network workshop: Young entrepreneurs - Engines of innovation in rural areas

The workshop focused on exchanging knowledge and sharing innovative, inspirational practices that can support young entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in rural areas.  

  • - CET
  • English

The EU CAP Network workshop ‘Young entrepreneurs – Engines of innovation in rural areas’ took place in Dublin, Ireland, on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December 2022.

The workshop focused on exchanging knowledge and sharing innovative, inspirational practices that can support young entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in rural areas.

All information and updates will be posted on this page.

panel of a man working on a laptop in a field for 2022 eu cap network ws young entrepreneurs

Event description and objectives

Rural shrinkage, due to ageing populations and rural out-migration of young people, is on the rise in the EU. Currently, about 30% of the EU’s population lives in rural areas (even less in remote areas) but this share is expected to keep decreasing in coming decades.

Depopulated rural regions often provide lower incomes and fewer job opportunities. Furthermore, the out-migration of younger, skilled workers results in ageing populations, which hinders generational renewal and the development of rural entrepreneurship and business opportunity. As highlighted in the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas of the European Commission, the impact of these negative demographic trends can hamper the change towards development, opportunity and a more sustainable future of rural areas.

Even though rural areas provide significant resources and services, both tangible and intangible (such as natural capital, environmental services, quality of life, culture, tradition and know-how), these are often undervalued, poorly understood and unexplored.

Considering all these factors, this workshop looked into existing instruments and opportunities within the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), and within the Research and Innovation programme Horizon Europe (HE), to support and promote young innovators/entrepreneurs and start-ups in rural communities. The event helped to provide and implement new solutions in rural areas, generating increased interest and employment opportunities, and enriching the quality of life in these areas.

Overall aim

The overall aim of the workshop was to support young entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems and their actors in rural areas. This was done by showcasing good practices from EIP-AGRI Operational Groups, Horizon projects and other EU-funded programmes, and by highlighting leadership examples from local communities, and innovators in rural communities.

This demonstrated that rural areas and communities can be an attractive place for internal and external innovators and start-ups, for developing sustainable processes of economic, social, and territorial development. These can be based not only on more innovative and integrated land management practices and diversification of rural businesses, but also as a source of talent and innovators. In relation to this, young people are generally more keen to embrace innovations in different sectors. They can be considered front-runners in strengthening the innovation ecosystems in rural areas, and can contribute to tackling some of the challenges posed by the demographic decline. In addition, this can contribute to a more positive and inclusive image of rural areas, making them more attractive, stimulating rural economies and creating new opportunities as envisaged by the Long-Term Vision for Rural Areas.

The concept of an enabling environment for entrepreneurship needs a broader, holistic approach. It should show the diversified sources with infrastructure, supported by various public development funds as well as private funds. Cultural contexts change. Therefore, capacity building for innovation in rural areas should be considered a long-term strategy, not only for farming but also for other businesses with orientation of funds that add value for motivating young entrepreneurs that are settling in rural areas.

Specific objectives

  • Showcase innovative businesses and start-ups led by young entrepreneurs in rural areas.
  • Explore opportunities offered under the CAP and HE to support young entrepreneurs and start-ups in rural areas.
  • Identify the needs and barriers for young entrepreneurs to develop new businesses in rural areas.
  • Promote young entrepreneurship ecosystems within local rural communities
  • Activate networking among stakeholders to support innovation and young entrepreneurs in rural areas.
  • Target group

The workshop focused on good practices of young innovative entrepreneurial initiatives, in different stages of development, in EU rural areas. This included but was not limited to farming, forestry and environmental productions and services.

Other participants included advisors, researchers, representatives from start-ups and other associations, chambers of agriculture, industry, processors, other public and managing entities/bodies, local authorities, and press. 


English language

Final agenda

(PDF – 216.37 KB)


English language

Speaker and facilitator bios

(PDF – 579.93 KB)

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Participants list

(PDF – 504.33 KB)

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Background information field visits

(PDF – 397.59 KB)

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EU vision rural areas & support policies for Young Rural Entrepreneurship – Magdalena Mach, European Commission, DG

(PDF – 2.67 MB)

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Drivers for rural entrepreneurship – Corina Roe, CAP Strategic Division for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of Ireland

(PDF – 1.27 MB)

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Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs – Linda McNulty, Head of Operations, Dublin Chamber

(PDF – 1.15 MB)

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Public funding opportunities – Magdalena Mach, European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development

(PDF – 878.54 KB)

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Private funding for young entrepreneurship – DC Cahalane, Dogpatch Labs

(PDF – 1.4 MB)

English language

Supporting environment for rural entrepreneurship in Ireland –Barry Caslin, Rural Development Specialist, Teagasc

(PDF – 1.46 MB)