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Land.Digital: 61 innovative projects receive funding

With the “Land.Digital” support scheme, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) supports the digital transformation in rural areas and disseminates model practical concepts under the umbrella of the Federal Rural Development Scheme (BULE) throughout Germany.

The use of modern digital information and communications technologies opens up new opportunities for rural areas. Village communities can become more interconnected, and locational disadvantages and long distances can be offset, bringing major benefits for people living and working in the countryside.

61 model projects have been approved nationwide

In 2017, on behalf of the BMEL, the Rural Development Competence Centre (KomLE) issued a call for project proposals entitled "LandDigital: opportunities of digitalisation for rural areas” to look for interested parties who wanted to improve rural life through the smart use of information and communications technologies. Following a two-tiered selection procedure by the KomLE’s expert team, 61 innovative projects out of a total of 237 project outlines submitted received a funding guarantee of up to EUR 200,000. All projects will be completed by March 2022 at the latest. The recipients of project funds are predominantly companies, clubs, universities, colleges, municipalities and districts.

From economy and civic engagement to local service provision

The project areas comprise the seven thematic areas "Economy and Labour", "Volunteering and Involvement", "Mobility", "Education and Training", "Health and Care", "Local Service Provision" and "Information and Communication Platforms (ICT platforms)".

A project relating to “co-working”, for instance, receives funding under “Economy and labour”. The aim is for rural inhabitants who may have vacant premises be introduced to the option of setting up a CoWorking space, to understand how it can work as a business model and personal opportunity and to receive long-term support and coaching during establishment and operation. In order to get to know the possibilities offered by a co-working space directly and test them in practice, the “CoWorkLand” project is available as a mobile pop-up CoWorking space in a number of different rural regions.

Under "Health and Care", the project "Pharmacy 2.0", for example, is concerned with the development of analogue and digital possibilities to ensure meaningful care services for people in rural regions that are lagging structurally and to counteract the decline in pharmacies. The aim is to ensure a good supply of medicinal products and to widen the range of services provided by pharmacies, i.e. through intensive networking with doctors and care services. This enables moves to nursing homes or longer hospital stays to be avoided for as long as possible.

Testing, analysing and sharing knowledge

The BMEL aims to promote innovative and transferable projects in order to seize the opportunities presented by digital transformation in rural areas. The technical evaluation of the projects therefore plays a key role. The aim is for new insights to be gained that would feed into the design of future policies at all administrative levels.

The KomLE office at the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) will provide technical assistance in order to support the technical evaluation of the measures. It is planned that the KomLE should collate key findings and practical recommendations to transfer the project approaches to other regions. Alongside the testing of innovative ideas through each project, the mutual exchange of experience and transfer of know-how between the actors is thus also of particular importance in the context of the call for project proposals. Plans include, for instance, publications, networking meetings with the actors and KomLE webinars.

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