Engaging Rural Micros (ERM) Project

Engaging Rural Micros logo 

The Engaging Rural Micros Project is now closed. Thank you to all the project partners and participants.

The Engaging Rural Micros project was a two-part research study which ran from 2018 to 2021. The aim of the project was to help Devon County Council to find out how we can shape business support programmes to better engage with and support rural businesses with less than 10 employees (Micro Businesses). These businesses make up 90.1% of Devon’s rural economy (excluding Exeter). The project work included:

  • Phase 1: Proof of Concept research in North and Mid Devon;
  • Phase 2: Research Trial in Devon, and the Exmoor and Blackdown Hills areas of Somerset.

We understand that there is a need to provide tailored and accessible support to enable these rural micros to increase time working on the business rather than in the business. Better supporting these businesses in the future could have a significant positive impact on our rural economy as well as the mental health and wellbeing of those working in it.

Phase 1: Proof of Concept

A six-month proof of concept phase engaged with over 100 micro businesses. It targeted the Mid Devon and North Devon districts through surveys, case studies and focus group research.

Thank you to all of the businesses that took part in the proof of concept phase, your input was extremely valuable and helped us to use the findings to launch the Phase 2 Research Trial.

If you would like to read more information about the Phase 1 Proof of Concept study, the final report is available online, along with Annexe A and Annexes B & C.

Phase 2: Research Trial

The research trial tested different methods of engaging with rural micro businesses, and monitored how they responded to different types of support. Devon County Council (DCC) worked closely with Plymouth Marjon University; Business Information Point; and Cosmic to deliver different business support packages and evaluate their impact.

The trial had a range of interesting findings. The unique business engagement methods were cited as particularly successful in an Innovation Growth Lab Blog post.

Thank you to all of the businesses which took part in the trial phase. Business participation was extremely valuable and helped to inform the support programmes the council plans deliver in the future. To find out more about the current business support on offer from Devon County Council, visit the DCC Business Support webpages.

To read the findings of the Phase 2 Research Trial, the final report is available online.


If you would like to know more about the ERM project please email engagingruralmicros@devon.gov.uk

Follow @RuralMicros on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with future support opportunities.

The Engaging Rural Micros project was run by Devon County Council, who won government funding in rounds 1 and 2 of the Business Basics Fund via Innovate UK.

If you would like more information about how data was handled as part of this trial, please read our privacy notice.