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Traditional and emerging interest networks supported by the advancement of digital and telecommunication technologies, the growing use of bioenergy and the ability to take advantage of knowledge beneficial for local populations and business development promote strategic breakthroughs of rural communities. The paper focuses on the problem of the smart village development with respect to a sustainable rural regional development. The aim of the research is to identify the preconditions for rural area progress and smart rural villages driving forces in Lithuania. The research object concerns the principles and driving forces of the development of smart villages. The research methods inter alia included analysis, systematization, and comparison of scientific literature, documents, and good practice examples. Analysis of the experiences of villages and local/international organizations and research into the best practices helped to identify the drivers and the key principles of the smart village development. The case study revealed that three out of five selected pilot rural areas of Lithuania have an innovative potential with some of the smart village principles adopted. The main constraints identified by the study were related to the lack of technological, digital or energy efficiency innovation and human resources in rural areas.

An integrated perspective on rural regional learning

Regional learning and innovation is a key to promote more resilient, robust and inclusive rural areas. Current analytical frameworks focus on support for knowledge spill-over from academia to industry and sector-oriented learning. The high diversity of actors and activities contributing to rural regional development is thereby not addressed. In this paper, existing frameworks are revised to offer an integrated perspective on the support for rural regional learning. The revised framework is used to identify, map and analyse supportive arrangements and their operational interfaces. It also offers an analytical perspective for beneficiaries to evaluate the support received. The DERREG case study area Westerkwartier is used to illustrate the use of the revised framework and its relevance for empirical research. The revised framework can be used to compare supportive arrangements for learning across different rural regions.

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