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Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA)

SIMRA looks at unlocking the growth potential of rural areas through enhanced governance and social innovation

SIMRA seeks to fill the significant knowledge gap in understanding and enhancing social innovation in marginalised rural areas by advancing the state-of-the-art in Social Innovation (SI) and connected governance mechanisms in agriculture and forestry sectors and in rural development in general. SIMRA is a Horizon 2020 European Commission project which runs from April 2016 to April 2020.

Project Objectives

The project will fill the significant knowledge gap in understanding and enhancing SI in marginalised rural areas by advancing the state-of-the-art in SI and connected governance mechanisms in agriculture and forestrysectors and rural development, in general. We will achieve this objective by:·      

  • blending diverse theoretical positions into a coherent explanation of spatial variability of SI, encompassing its empirical diversity (complexities and various dimensions),
  • co-constructing a novel evaluative toolkit,
  • and, developing improved knowledge of determinants of success in order to answer the question of how to support enhanced governance and SIs, addressing specificities and priorities of social needs and new social relationships and collaborations. 


We develop: i) guidelines to identify, analyse, adapt, integrate existing methods to evaluate SI and its impacts on components of territorial capital in rural areas at various levels; ii) a set of methods that can be chosen, adapted, combined sequentially case by case, and by means depending on needs (e.g. SI to be evaluated; evaluation objectives, e.g. jointly measuring all the impacts or only partial; ex postin itinere, or ex ante).

We apply quantitative-based, qualitative-based and mixed methods for assessing SI, measuring its impacts and understanding processes and policies. The selected, advanced and combined set of methods will be integrated with existing assessment frameworks (e.g. the Common Montioring and Evaluating Framework (CMEF)). Attention is given to the economic, social, and institutional/political (governance) aspects of SI, e.g.  its role in enhancing businesses and entrepreneurship options and creating conditions for accessing new markets and providing new investment opportunities, and the means of increasing and reinforcing social capital as a key factor for local development. 

Key Results/ Findings

The project is in its early stages but we expect some of the key outputs to be:

  • A systematic theoretical and operational framework developed for categorising, understanding, and operationalising SI in different settings and across scales.
  • A categorisation/classification (‘catalogue of diversity’) of the SIs observable in rural areas.
  • An integrated set of methods for the evaluation of SI and its impacts in rural areas across the target region.
  • A co-constructed evaluation carried out (by academic and practice community) of success factors for SIs across selected case studies (CSs), covering spatial variation and heterogeneity of regions.
  • New/improved knowledge of SIs and novel governance mechanisms synthesised and disseminated to policy makers and other end-users.
  • Collaborative learning and networking opportunities created and innovative actions to be launched by integrating, consulting and engaging stakeholders at different and multiple scales, throughout the project.

Further Details

The Consortium consists of 26 partners, including 10 public bodies (8 universities and 2 research institutes) with excellent academic standing, 8 non-profit organizations, 5 SMEs, NGOs and networks, and 3 international organizations. Therefore, SIMRA’s expertise comprises scientific research, education, knowledge exchange and dissemination, and business, market and entrepreneurship proficiency. SIMRA partners are diverse not only in their expertise and activities, but in geography. These include mountains, islands, and coastal, remote rural and periurban locations across Europe, the non-EU Mediterranean region, new EU member states and associated countries. Organizations from 15 countries directly contribute to SIMRA. In addition, 15 more countrieswill be involved, including Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco and a number of countries from Eastern Europe. In addition to full partners and contributors to case studies, SIMRA has numerous supporters from Mountain Networks (e.g. Carpathian Science, The Mountain Research Intiative - Europe and South Eastern Europe, and Carpathian Convention), FLEG II, the UNEP, UNESCO, FAO, IUFRO, ECOFOR, Earth System Governance, and others, including the Ecosystem Services Community Scotland (ESCOM).

SIMRA is also active on various Social Media platforms: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Scoop It!

Staff Involved

Maria Nijnik (SIMRA Coordinator); David Miller (Head of Management and Administration); Mags Currie; Jelte Harnmeijer

Key Contact

Maria Nijnik

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/SIMRA on 21/04/19 09:08:39 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.