The Kempen is a rural area within the Brainport region. All the challenges facing a rural region in terms of economic growth, sustainability, ageing and depopulation, as well as remarkable new opportunities for progress in a connected digital society, are visible here. No wonder the The Rural Summit 2017 – on March 22 and 23 – is exactly in the Kempen. 

The connected digital society leads to rural revival: connected, vital and economically strong rural regions re-connected to urban centers. Summit attendees will meet in Eindhoven and sessions of the summit will take place in that city as well as locations across the Brabant Kempen region. Examples from regions such as Bavaria, Wallis, Jönköping and of course the Kempen, will be shown.

MengelersA range of businesses, governments and research institutions are supporting the summit. One of them is the Technical University of Eindhoven. Jan Mengelers, chairman of the executive board, stresses that understanding digital technology helps people in rural areas to create digital solutions to their everyday problems. “Quick digital screen contact with a hospital or digitally shopping in stores which are only reachable far away in the city. Our farms increasingly determine when to harvest based on digital information on weather and conditions of the fields. The inventiveness of the population is unprecedented. Eindhoven University of Technology wants to provide solutions to the problems that people encounter, by training students who have knowledge of digital capabilities, and by scientists who assist people in solving everyday problems. Digital solutions for rural areas require knowledge (for residents) of the digital opportunities and the accessibility of the necessary infrastructure such as fibre optic and wireless networks.”

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    Van den BorneFarmer Jacob van den Borne is a frontrunner in that aspect. “Through precision farming techniques, but also in animal husbandry a lot of data is collected by sensors built into the stables. Van den Borne Potatoes collects data with sensors on tractors, satellites and drones. This data consists of different types of data files through which analyses are performed. However, for uploading these files a more profound digitization is required.” 

    This digitisation has recently been improved by the installation of fibre optics in the countryside, Van den Borne says. “That’s why I will be telling my story at The Rural Summit.”

    Anja ThijsAs the mayor of Eersel, one of the Kempen municipalities, Anja Thijs sees it as her job to make sure that in the future this area is a pleasant environment to live, work and recreate. “With this event, we try to connect our environment with other smart regions in other parts of the country, Europe or the rest of the world. In addition, we try to build ideas, relationships and connections which ensure that the future of the Brabant Kempen will be vital, economically strong, connected to Brainport and durable.”

    Take a look at the list of speakers

    Picture: Connecting rural habits with Brainport

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    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.