Rural Catalyst Conference

Rural Catalyst Conference

Join the team from The Rural Design Centre Innovation Project as we join up with the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) to deliver our first annual event, the 'Rural Catalyst Conference' in the beautiful backdrop of Alnwick Garden Pavilion.

This event will bring together organisations and individuals with an interest in rural innovation and enterprise, with the aim of strengthening local networks, highlighting rural issues and working together towards viable solutions. Given the widespread interest and high profile speakers, the conference will also be livestreamed to a broader audience.

We want to move the conversation about rural from primarily agriculture to a broader understanding of the countryside - specifically Northumberland and the North of Tyne area.


09:30 – 10:45 - Introductions

  • Introduction from Lord Curry of Kirkharle

  • Pre-recorded welcome from our key speaker

  • Simon Green – CEO, Rural Design Centre

  • Jeremy Phillipson – Professor of Rural Development at Newcastle University and Director of the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise

  • Neil Ward – Deputy Vice Chancellor and PVC-Academic at the University of East Anglia 

10:45 – Break

11:15 – 12:30 - Design Mission Lightning Talks

  • Andy Dean – Chief Executive, Community Action Northumberland

  • Julie Gibbon – Haltwhistle Partnership

  • Chris Jewitt – CEO, Food and Drink North East

  • Jamie Campbell – Design Associate, Rural Design Centre Innovation Project

  • David O’Leary – Design Associate, Rural Design Centre Innovation Project

12:30 – Lunch

13:15 – 14:45 - Inspirational Insights

  • Tom Heap – Rural Affairs Correspondent of BBC News and reporter and presenter of BBC 1’s Countryfile 

  • Jemma Clifford and Anna Price – Directors and Co-Founders of the Rural Business Awards 

  • Sarah Dunning OBE – Chief Executive of Westmorland Limited

  • Speaker panel Q&A

14:45 – Break

15:00 – 16:30 - Collaboration Workshops with the RDCIP delivery team

  • Landscape change – David O’Leary

  • Net zero – Jamie Campbell

  • Rural mobility – Liz Gray

  • High Streets – Nick Devitt

This full day event has been designed to bring together people from different sectors, industries and perspectives to combine knowledge in tackling rural challenges.

We're conscious that some people will be more confident attending physical events at the moment than others, given the continuing impact of Covid-19. With this in mind, we are intending to deliver the Conference both online and in person, depending on the public health situation and level of demand. Please let us know which method you would prefer when registering.

Register at:

The event

  • Name: Rural Catalyst Conference
  • Date from: 09:30AM 07 Oct 2021
  • Date to: 16:30PM 07 Oct 2021
  • Event Location: Alnwick Garden
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