How can the model of collaborative workspaces contribute to regional development in structurally weak regions? This is what a group of researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography will be investigating over the next four years together with project partners in Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Greece.
Open, digitally networked and collaborative workspaces (CWS) have long been the trend in the big cities. Now rural-peripheral regions of the EU start to follow suit and the Corona pandemic is adding momentum to this development. Against this background international project teams want to explore in a joint project how politics can support CWS and integrate them into regional development processes.
Around 25 experts from science and practice are participating in the new EU project with the short title "CORAL". The project will also train 15 young researchers to become experts. They will later provide locally information on the importance of CWS for employees, companies and decision-makers and pave the way for alternative forms of work in rural-peripheral regions.
Three of the 15 projects are supervised in the frame of the Graduate School of Global and Area Studies (GSGAS) at the University of Leipzig in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL) and the Saxon Association of Cultural and Creative Industries. IfL project leader Thilo Lang: "We are looking at alternative ideas for new places of work that are associated with so called rurban lifestyles and, contrary to common assumptions, often located in rural areas. In addition, we want to develop recommendations for action that can productively shape the transformation of working environments from the perspective of rural areas."
Martina Keilbach sees the Graduate School Global and Area Studies as an ideal complement to the practice-oriented expert training within CORAL. "At the same time, we can learn a lot from participating in this international graduate programme," says the GSGAS coordinator. Christian Rost from the Saxon Association of Cultural and Creative Industries expects strong impulses for the development of rural regions in the Free State of Saxony. For some time now, he has observed the great commitment of many actors in rural regions with the aim of establishing new forms of work there as well. However, important background knowledge is still lacking to successfully implement such initiatives.
The Initial Training Network "Exploring the impacts of collaborative workspaces in rural and peripheral areas in the EU – CORAL" is funded by the European Union within the framework of the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions for a period of four years and coordinated by Panteion University in Athens. University graduates can apply for the programme until 14 March 2021.