Shaping rural innovation ecosystems sustainably - LIONA

Innovation is a much-discussed term and is often seen as a solution to social challenges. However, many innovation approaches focus on innovation hubs, impact labs or start-up centres in urban contexts - but what do we actually know about innovation in rural areas? How does innovation work in rural areas and how can it be consciously supported in order to contribute to sustainable development?

Stadtaufnahme aus der Landvorteil-Region ©Landvorteil e.V.
Aufnahme eines Arbeitsplatzes im Coworking-Space "TorfHub" in der Landvorteil-Region ©Landvorteil e.V.
Elbpanorama in Boizenburg mit Treppe hinunter zum Ufer ©Landvorteil e.V.

Research project

The BMBF-funded research project LIONA is a sub-project of the "Wir!" alliance "Landvorteil" and investigates the functioning of rural innovation ecosystems and the possibility of shaping them in the interests of sustainable development. Leuphana University Lüneburg, with the Institute for Management and Organisation, and the Think & Do Tank neuland21 e.V., in the Labour and Economy programme area, are working closely together on the scientific basis to provide targeted support for innovation-based structural change in structurally weak rural regions, helping them to meet social challenges.  

We are also interested in expanding the concept of innovation. Characterised by the context of urban areas and a technological perspective, innovation is often measured in terms of patents, start-ups and research and development expenditure by companies. Especially in the context of structural change in rural areas, however, it is more about social innovations that have a social impact. However, these are often insufficiently recognised in typical innovation indicators. As a result, the potential for innovation in rural areas is overlooked and social innovations in particular do not receive the support they need.

Research concept

The aim of our project is therefore to develop a new way of looking at and measuring rural innovation ecosystems, their innovation performance and approaches to sustainable design. One framework for this is the concept of "Responsible Innovation", which focusses on the question of how innovation can be shaped responsibly. In our context, this means that the sustainable design of innovation processes can only succeed if the distinct features of rural areas are taken into account. Based on this, action-oriented guidelines for innovation promotion and innovation management will be derived for the Landvorteil-region (Ludwigslust-Parchim and Herzogtum Lauenburg districts) and beyond.

To summarise, we are focusing on three central objectives:

  • Improving the understanding of the (further) development of innovation ecosystems in rural areas
  • Developing, testing and piloting of a framework and associated indicators for the further development of the innovation ecosystem
  • Deriving impulses for the further development and conscious design of innovation management to promote innovation ecosystems in the Landvorteil-region and in rural areas

Contact (at Leuphana)

  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Wenzel
  • Dr. Verena Meyer

The LIONA research project is a cooperation with the Think & Do Tank neuland21 e.V. and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the "WIR! - Wandel durch Innovation in der Region" program.

[Translate to Englisch:] Logo Neuland21 ©nd21
[Translate to Englisch:] Logo des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung ©bmbf
Logo des Programms WIR! - Wandel durch Innovation in der Region ©BMBF