Engaging Rural Micros for increased productivity Trial

Lead Participant: Devon County Council


This trial aims to stimulate 'growth mindsets' with traditionally 'hard to engage' rural micros using a supportive approach to overcome their tendencies towards stagnation and overworking, and increase time working on the business rather than in the business. The focus will be on 'productivity for a purpose' rather than productivity for its own sake. We will evaluate subsequent increase in adoption of new practices and technologies and ultimately, productivity.

This is the second stage of our research; the first stage asked businesses what they felt are their barriers to engagement and how future business support programmes could overcome these and encourage engagement. This trial uses the information gathered to design and test different methods of engagement and explores the best methods of encouraging rural micro businesses to adopt modern technologies and business practices.

The trial is based on two research questions:

* What are the most effective methods of engagement with rural micro businesses in Devon?

* What is the most appropriate method to increase adoption of existing technologies and business practices to boost levels of productivity among rural micro businesses?

Additional questions to explore in this study include 'why' these methods are effective, and whether subsequent benefits result.

Micro businesses and sole traders (less than 10 employees) make up 90.1 % of Devon's rural economy (excluding Exeter). Evidence shows they are hard to engage and need a more basic level of 'person-centred' support to increase productivity via adoption of modern technology and management practices. Helping these businesses to embrace new technologies and modern ways of working by supporting the person, could have a significant impact on our rural economy as well as mental health and wellbeing. This Trial will identify how this can best be achieved, and how future Business Support Programmes can be designed to engage and support rural micro businesses.

The Trial will be based in settlements with a population < 10,000 across Devon and the Exmoor and Blackdown Hills areas of Somerset, in four overrepresented sectors: Tourism; Health and Social Care; Trades; and Manufacturers.

Outcomes of this research include a robust, evidence based academic evaluation that will scientifically measure the success of the interventions and methods. This intelligence will be utilised by existing and future Business Support Programmes to design effective rural micro engagement and support. If interventions are successful, the resulting micro growth mindset could stimulate future support uptake and be scaled-up.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Devon County Council £399,957 £ 399,957


10 25 50