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The Smart Rural Living Lab (SRLL) aims to generate new methodologies and technologies to approach rural territories weaknesses and strengths, and by these becoming a reference in sustainable rural development, exporting knowledge to other territories and working with users to foster this specific region. The problems faced by this type of territory, as the Penela Municipality, are primarily focused on improving the local economic base and develop the natural resources, promoting citizenship and entrepreneurship, increasing welfare and social development, tourism promotion and territory identity preservation.
The SRLL mission is to promote innovation and the research development in new technologies, methodologies and applications in order to achieve a better integration of this rural area in a challenging global world, giving birth to new services/systems/products and business opportunities and fostering citizen participation in the conceptualization and test. SRLL’s major characteristic is the recognition of several weaknesses and constrains in the rural context, and their transformation into a knowledge cluster (shared by companies, universities, research centres, spin-offs and users). Our goal is to produce knowledge around a set of activities previously identified at local/regional level with different agents and capable of foster entrepreneurship, economy, quality of life and citizen commitment with their community. SRLL should establish itself as a centre of innovation, good practice and development of rural sustainability, where agro-food and forestry sectors are the centre of the economic model. The common knowledge-base is generated around a model of sustainability with four vectors: natural resources (agriculture, fire prevention, graze, forest), social development and welfare (health and elder centers), tourism and identity (heritage preservation, virtual hunting and tourism centre), and citizenship and entrepreneurship (internet access and public participation).
References and Track Record
Penela Municipality has developed a strategy program to boost this territory competiveness and development. The implementation of this program occurred in the late of 2007. Since then, a large number of stakeholders have been associated with our vision. The SRLL idea came out from this program implementation and shares a new vision for rural areas, taking and transforming characteristics traditionally seen as problems into opportunities and differentiation factors. It is a network territorial opportunity, leveraged and developed through the exploitation of its distinguishing factors with innovation and entrepreneurship applied at rural context. Qualifying the territory, structuring and integrating diversity will be an engine of local development, strengthening innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness of the region in strategic sectors (tourism, culture, heritage, natural resources, forest, environmental technologies and energy). An example of the dynamics promoted by Penela Municipality, consists in the participation in the ERMIS project suported by an INTERREG IVC program. This project aims to share the best practices of local inovattion systems in different european regions that share the same territory characteriscs.