Dunhill Ecopark, Waterford, has been highlighted as one of Europe’s most inspiring rural businesses, in the Rubizmo rural business innovation awards.

It was one of the Irish business cases that participated in the interview stage of the project. Out of over 50 business cases, 18 cases across the 11 partnering countries were highlighted, with Dunhill Ecopark nominated in the ecosystem category.

People are invited to vote for their favourite business idea across the three sectors of food, bio-based value chain and ecosystem services on: www.bit.do/rubizmo.

Voting is open until midnight on October 22 and the category winners will be announced on October 24 at the Rubizmo conference in Brussels ‘Supporting rural business success across Europe.’

Vital ingredients

Rubizmo is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project with a consortium of 16 partners across 11 EU countries, one of which is Irish Rural Link. 

The project will examine the vital ingredients for developing entrepreneurship and successful business models in high potential sectors such as food and agriculture, new bio-based value chains and ecosystem services.

The project has so far analysed business models from hundreds of previous funded and private enterprise initiatives. By examining the reasons for their success – or failure – in the context of their collaboration and support networks, the project will discover and share the key ingredients to recreate innovative business ideas all over Europe.

The Rubizmo success factors will be shared with a wide number of rural factors through a set of practical tools supporting collaboration, entrepreneurship and business development in rural communities.

In addition, active coaching and peer-to-peer training will be provided to rural entrepreneurs and networks to instigate sustainable business transformation.

Dunhill Ecopark has created 70 jobs and preserved artisan skills as well as providing on-site education and training facilities.

An enterprise park with a difference, it was established by members of the Dunhill community in 2000. The social enterprise has a mission of cultivating an entrepreneurial culture and facilitating job creation.

A business and learning hub for the area, its motto is: ‘There’s no limit to what can be achieved by a community working together.’

Environmentally friendly

Located on the ‘Copper Coast’ – an UNESCO-accredited global geopark – environmentally friendly best practices are an essential part of the park’s ethos and required of all tenants.

Industrial units on the park accommodate a wide range of businesses and services including artisan food and beverages, plant hire, a hairdressing and beauty salon and child play therapy.

A number of successful businesses, incubated in Dunhill, have grown significantly and migrated to other locations. This economic activity happened in an area where comparable jobs would not otherwise have been available, with minimal financial support from the state and was developed and managed by volunteers.

As well as hot desk facilities for freelancers and entrepreneurs, a community-owned education centre is also located in Dunhill Ecopark. It was established to empower people in all aspects of their life, provide equal access to learning and develop the skills needed to participate in today’s knowledge-based society.

Guided by the principles of access, opportunity and excellence, the mission of the centre is to provide a hub of learning excellence, to create opportunities for people to succeed and facilitate access to education for all groups.

The park also pilots and pioneers projects researching the potential for social enterprise development and community tourism. This includes a sense of place funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme 2007-2013 (INTERREG 4A).