The COM³ partners at the University of Groningen have developed a training solution that encourages staff and developers in municipalities, regions, and business support organisations to apply design thinking. The approach, used as a problem-solving tool helps drive digital transformation – with people in mind.
Digitally enabled and transformed SMEs can make rural areas more attractive places to live, work and invest in. Local and regional authorities need the right tools and skills to support rural businesses in their digital transformation. In exceptional situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to get even more creative and adopt new approaches.
In this regard, collaboration is key to promoting digital transformation among SMEs. One possible approach to foster collaboration and work together on innovative solutions and products is design thinking. It has proven to be a widely used and appropriate approach for the public sector, for companies seeking digital transformation, and for tackling difficult problems such as the pandemic. It is a method that can be applied remotely or with the help of digital tools. However, it is equally important to be aware of the potential drawbacks and conflicts. Leadership, commitment, openness, and curiosity are important prerequisites.
For this reason, training is recommended! Public sector staff and developers should learn how to apply design thinking to their various roles. COM³ partners at the University of Groningen have developed an accessible and easy-to-use training solution, that allows everyone to understand design thinking, and apply it in a productive way.
Besides this training solution, COM³ partners produce a series of e-learning modules that encourage staff and developers in municipalities, regions, and business support organisations in building a rural digital entrepreneurial ecosystem:
- Helping SMEs Deal with Information Overload
- Designing Support Measures for a Rural Digital Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
- Fostering the Digital Transformation of SMEs in Rural Areas – an Introduction
These and other training modules can be found on the learning platform ruraldigital.eu, developed by the two Interreg North Sea Region projects COM³ and CORA. With this platform, both projects address the most pressing challenges to overcome the digital divide in rural areas and offer training solutions that enable everyone – citizens, small businesses, and administrations – to acquire the necessary digital skills.