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RAXIS: Making Rural Entrepreneurship Work (PRAXIS)
Start date: Sep 30, 2004, End date: Dec 30, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

PRAXIS Rural Entrepreneurship will expose all partners to new ideas and approaches to entrepreneurship in rural areas. The partnership will undertake and disseminate the results of a survey to investigate the experiences of PRAXIS partners in supporting rural businesses to successfully innovate and become more competitive. The outcomes of the survey will guide the activities of four pilot projects to test the effectiveness of different ways of implementing rural development policies. Achievements: Achievements so far The PRAXIS project was conditionally approved on 12 July 2004. After fulfilling the conditions we established the management and co-ordination structures. Partnership Agreements were sent to the partners to outline roles and responsibilities in the project. We drafted the Terms of Reference of the Steering Group, which were approved at the first Steering Group meeting in Brussels, on 17-18 November 2004.The project was launched during the November plenary session of the Committee of the Regions. The Rural Partnerships and Strategies questionaire was completed by all partners in spring 2005. The results of the survey were discussed at the transnational Seminar in the East of England in July 2005, and the outcomes from this session have informed the activities of the Pilot Projects. In October 2005, the second transnational seminar took place in Crete, and informed us about the aims and objectives of Pilot Project 2. Pilot project 1, Innovation Development Amongst Rural Entrepreneurs (I DARE) is led by the Essex Rural Partnership. It implements a model of innovation support for rural SMEs through mentoring innovation support to 25 cross-sectoral businesses. Pilot project 2 (MESURA) is led by the Heraklion Development Agency and aims to encourage the start-up of micro-enterprises in rural areas. Pilot project 3 is led by theTechnologial Institute of Aragon. Virtual Community of Entrepreneurs in the Rural World (VICOR) is developing an online forum and database for rural entrepreneurs across the Praxis Network of regions to communicate. Pilot project 4 is led by the Province of West Flanders and it develops a package of support to help farm businesses to diversify. The pilot projects have now been completed. The Praxis website was relaunched in January 2007 and is kept regularly up to date with the latest news of the project. The project has produced 3 leaflets, 18 newsletters, 15 brochures and organised 33 dissemination events. As the project has continued it has increasingly influenced other regional policies/operations; 18 regional / local policy instruments have been addressed and at least 9 improved. 4 good practices related to the Structural Funds have been transferred. This is accompanied by an increase in dissemination activity and partner involvement and engagement. The tangible results from the pilot projects provide strong case studies to share with others in the Network and beyond, and they have been included in the Praxis Rural Entrepreneurship Toolkit. The Toolkit was officially presented at the Praxis Final Conference in Opolskie in November 2007. The Final Conference showcased the outcomes of the project and of INTERREG IIIC in general to local and regional policy and decision-makers from regions across Europe.
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