Welcome to the ARDENT project! The ARDENT project unites 6 main and 2 associated partners from HEIs, research centres and networks from 5 countries in Europe, who strive to foster entrepreneurship skills development in rural areas as well as promote closer links among community members. In our first series of blog articles, we would like to introduce you to each of consortium partner and highlight their initiatives and aspirations towards creating value and promoting local economies, and contributing to the settlement of the local population.

Rural areas in the EU represent, according to a standard definition, 91 % of the territory and 56 % of the population. Many of these rural areas face significant environmental and socio-economic challenges. Many rural areas in the EU suffer from structural problems, such as a lack of attractive employment opportunities, skill shortages, under-investment in connectivity and basic services, and significant youth drain.  

In the context of Germany in particular, OECD (2007) figures state that approximately 50% of rural residents are living in a rural district in proximity to an agglomeration or urbanised area, providing opportunities for greater urban-rural linkages. In fact, 45% of rural residents live in districts where at least 50% of its municipalities are located within 30 minutes by car to a supra-regional centre. This can potentially provide a wealth of opportunities for the development of the said areas. It is precisely this problem tackled by the project Advancing Rural Development through Entrepreneurship Education for Adults (ARDENT) – from within Key Action 2 strand: Strategic Partnerships for Adult Education. 

The project will be led and managed by Science-to-Business Marketing Research Center (S2BMRC) residing in Münster University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) in Germany, one of the leading European knowledge and technology transfer institutes with a vast experience of commercialization of intellectual outputs of academics and students. The centre researches and develops new knowledge, models and tools in entrepreneurship, university-business cooperation, innovation and technology transfer, as well as developing study curriculum targeting student-industry collaboration.  

MUAS conceived this project in order to bring in the element of lifelong learning and entrepreneurship into the development of rural regions, building on its expertise in implementing cross-border projects, including the most recent INTERREG “Krachtige Kernen / Strong Villages” (KRAKE), where MUAS addressed the challenges of approximately 40 Dutch and German villages, in collaboration with inhabitants, local enterprises, and local policy makers. Towns are increasingly needing support with public service provision and growth of their businesses, yet the subject matter is rather absent from offers in adult education with an entrepreneurial focus.  

With this motivation in mind, MUAS invited HEIs and organisations and other rural stakeholders who: 

– Face similar challenges in their regions, and need innovative approaches on the empowerment of individuals to reverse these societal and economic trends in their rural communities (contribution to “in-house” sustainability); 

– Have horizontal and vertical linkages to regional, national and EU actors and policy makers in entrepreneurship education and rural development (contribution to dissemination and wider sustainability); 

– Are committed to approaching problem-solving through multi-stakeholder engagement and co-creation; 

– Seek to boost the attractiveness of rural areas and stimulate more investment efforts into the rural entrepreneurship ventures. 

With this aim in mind the overarching idea is to create a momentum for more engagement in the challenges faced by rural areas within Münsterland. Further aim driving the implementation of ARDENT is helping adult learners enhance their capabilities and entrepreneurial mindset which would in the long run boost their employability chances and revive the economy of the rural areas. 

For more information please visit FH Münster website