19 October 2020 | Münster
On the 19th of October 2020, the S2BMRC organised a rural consultation workshop in Hafenkäserei, Münster. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the economic and societal challenges of Münsterland, especially under the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and identify opportunities to reboot and revitalise rural entrepreneurship. The workshop was organised in the context of a larger European project "Advancing Rural Development through Entrepreneurship Education for Adults" (ARDENT) co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union in which the FH Münster is the project lead.
Rural entrepreneurs are essential contributors to economic growth, regional development, and social well-being. Successful start-ups like Münsterlander Bauernbox or Güllemarkt24 are a real evidence that in Münsterland lays entrepreneurial potential and rural entrepreneurship should be further encouraged. The development of rural entrepreneurship is vital because, in recent years, rural areas have faced various challenges and the percentage of rural unemployment and of population migrating to urban areas has increased considerably. Currently, the crisis around the Corona pandemic leads to further difficulties, making it harder for entrepreneurs to survive in the uncertain, risky, turbulent, and ambiguous world of today. With this in mind, the S2BMRC had the initiative to engage the local community in a workshop and discuss pressing issues within Münsterland.
The workshop "MÜNSTERLAND and regional development during Covid-19" took place in the Hafenkäserei Münster, an appealing location with a view over the Münster harbour, under consideration of the pandemic situation and the state-wide imposed preventive practices. Representatives of our associated partners, such as TAFH Münster, HEI representatives, entrepreneurs, regional experts for business development as well as residents from Münsterland were invited to join the workshop, serving as a broad target group who could make valuable contributions from different perspectives.
The event started with a brief introduction from Prof. Dr. Thorsten Kliewe, managing director of the S2BMRC, who emphasized the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit in supporting Münsterland and its economic development. Subsequently, Iulia Stroila, ARDENT project manager and research associate at S2BMRC, and Ana Gathmann, ARDENT project assistant, explained the goal and the course of the workshop - defining the economic and societal challenges of rural areas in the Münsterland region - and the further use of the workshop results as a basis for the adult education program "Rural Entrepreneurship Accelerator". In order to cover as many topics as possible and thereby use the available time efficiently, participants were split into three separate groups of 3-4 persons each. After a short individual brainstorming session, the groups moved on to lively discussions about current drivers and barriers in the region. The main part of the workshop involved the identification of specific aspects related to the chosen challenge, such as advantages in mastering the challenge, potential barriers, or stakeholders involved, among others. While discussing these challenge-related aspects, the groups could visualise all their ideas on flipcharts, which could be designed in an individual way with creative tools.
In a final pitching session, groups discussed the group work results and shared their identified challenges. The concluding get-together further offered the opportunity to connect and exchange further ideas. Six aspects are critical to be tackled to build an enabling culture of vibrant entrepreneurship in Münsterland, to reboot the rural economy:
- Entrepreneurial education needs to be better promoted within the region where "classic" images of entrepreneurship need to be challenged
- Bureaucracy is shifting innovation in the region
- Identification of competencies for the future under the new "normal"
- Unpreceded lockdown measures have resulted in collapses of SMEs
- SMEs in the region depend more than ever on an enabling business environment, including support for access to finance, information, and market
- Different attitudes exist within rural and urban entrepreneurs
The outcome of the workshop serves as a starting point in the "Rural Entrepreneurship Accelerator" training. In this training, scheduled to take place in 2021, adult learners from Münsterland will develop, test, and grow creative and innovative solutions for the needs identified in the workshop.
All in all, the workshop was a successful event, where the outcome serves as a starting point for next year's "Rural Entrepreneurship Accelerator" program. It will provide adult learners with the opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills based on which they will be able to develop innovative business model solutions addressing the needs identified in the Münsterland region.
About the project
The event was part of a larger European project "Advancing Rural Development through Entrepreneurship Education for Adults" (ARDENT) co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (project number 2019-1-DE02-KA204-006491), which aims to promote the potential of entrepreneurial thinking and acting in rural areas.
The overarching idea of ARDENT is to create a momentum for more engagement in the challenges and opportunities faced by rural areas within Münsterland. Further aim driving the implementation of ARDENT is helping adult learners enhance their capabilities and entrepreneurial mindset through a two-semester training course entitled "Rural Entrepreneurship Accelerator". The course includes hands-on projects addressing societal and business challenges which would in the long run boost their employability chances and revive the economy of the rural areas.