Cultivate is a partner organisation in DESIRA (Digitisation: Economic and Social Impacts in Rural Areas). This is a Horizon 2020 project coordinated by the University of Pisa, which researches the impacts of digitalisation in rural areas with the aim of improving the capacity of society and political bodies to respond to challenges.

We’re one of 21 Living Labs within the consortium. Our Living Lab looks at how digital tools enable collaboration and contribute to local livelihoods, rural regeneration, local supply chains, and reducing carbon emissions, all within our unique context. It also looks at how these factors contribute to regional resilience (defined as the ability to recover from shocks caused by pandemics and environmental, economic and political factors).

Our research focuses on two main areas: 

  • PAST AND PRESENT (analysis of impacts of digitalisation):

We detailed everything that goes on in and around WeCreate Enterprise Centre, and looked at how it contributes to meeting the needs of the local area, both by collecting data, and by interviewing people involved to ask how their working lives had changed as a result of digitalisation. We identified several ‘Digital Game Changers’ that have made a difference to the way we do things, and 10 ‘Socio-Economic Sustainability Indicators’ to measure these against. The results of this research are documented in this report.

  • FUTURE (predicting potential scenarios):

We identified 10 areas where we’re likely to see changes within the next 10 years (considering social, environmental, economic, technological, and political changes), and used these to map out possible futures: a best case and worst case scenario, and two more probable scenarios (better not best, and worse not worst). These two more likely scenarios were described in digital stories (two videos were also made showcasing the work of Wecreate and the Food Hub). The findings were also documented in a report and a policy brief.

Digital Stories:

  • High energy (from humans), low energy (from fuel) presents a future scenario in which the Cloughjordan Ecovillage community mitigates the worst impacts of a global energy crisis that has led to fuel shortages and the breakdown of supply chains.
  • Older and wiser: less active and viable presents a future scenario in which an ageing rural population is unable to keep up to date with technological advancements while facing challenges caused by the climate crisis and a drop in global production.
  • Cloughjordan Food Hub describes how our local community established an online farmers market through a digital platform, the Open Food Network, to directly connect producers and consumers, and strengthen local supply chains.
  • WeCreate FabLab shows the innovative activities at our digital fabrication lab, with a focus on meaningful livelihoods that directly respond to the climate crisis and other challenges of our times.