Free Support Programme for Rural Businesses Launched

Rural businesses can create tenfold increases in their audience size, with digital marketing technologies like virtual reality and 360° video. That’s according to Digi2Market, an EU programme who today launched a new campaign offering free marketing and networking support to rural and small-scale businesses.

The campaign is also staging a #rural­business day on social media on Wednesday 19th January. It was launched online on Monday 10th January 2022 by Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, chief executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

“The #rural­business day/lá #gnótu­aithe – aims to highlight the role small businesses play in regional economies.  They provide employment and support sporting and community bodies. So, #rural­business day/ lá #gnótu­aithe­gives everyone a chance to show their appre­ci­ation for these rural entrepreneurs.”

“Rural businesses can feel isolated and find it hard to reach bigger markets. Digi2Market helps them use immersive technologies like VR and Augmented Reality to boost their marketing efforts and reach bigger audiences. It also offers them a way to connect and network online with businesses across Europe.”

Digi2Market programme co-ordinator, Seán Ó Coisdealbha of Údarás Na Gaeltachta, says any EU business is eligible to sign up to the programme. “However, our focus is on rural and small-scale businesses. We help them identify the latest technologies to market their business and put them into practice effec­tively. Lough Lannagh Holiday Village in Co Mayo, for example, witnessed an explosion of their Facebook traffic, simply by using 360° video.”

Media research expert, Dr Helen Jackson of the University of Ulster, a partner in the Digi2Market project, says the results have been impressive. “Mobile phone apps and immersive technologies can transform the way people engage with tourist attrac­tions like Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne.”

“By linking physical and virtual spaces, visitors can explore the majestic clifftop location and discover the music, art, legends and stories of the people who lived there hundreds of years ago. And they do this with their phone in one hand and their feet firmly on the ground.

Digi2Market helped Finnish wellness service company Rantakylän Fysikaa­linen Hoito­laitos (RFH) reach new audiences with a 360° Tour of their facil­ities. They also assisted them with the creation of an online store, which made it easier for customers to book and buy their services.

In Iceland, the Digi2Market partner is devel­opment agency SSNV. They collab­o­rated with food processing company, Vörus­miðja Biopol, in a 360 virtual tour. “It gave potential customers a realistic visual idea on what to expect when they book food processing services,” says Svein­björg Rut Péturs­dóttir of SSNV.

Dr Helen Jackson says Digi2Market is also about helping these small businesses to connect with other businesses across Europe. “We have created an online space for you to meet businesses in your sector and other sectors throughout the EU.”

Another key function of the Digi2Market campaign is to encourage small businesses to use more sustainable business practices. European expert, Dr Lasse Okkonen, Principal Lecturer at Karelia University in Finland – another Digi2Market partner – says using a Green Business Model is not just about helping the environment.

“Companies who apply environ­mental management systems and Environ­mental Product Decla­ra­tions (EPDs) succeed better in public procure­ments of products and services. This is because they can better meet tight­ening environ­mental and respon­si­bility criteria. In addition, enter­prises applying green business models can better meet the expec­ta­tions of stake­holders like indus­trial partners. They offer trans­parency on the environ­mental impact of every­thing they do to create a product or service.”

Small and rural businesses who want to sign up for free to the Digi2Market programme can do so directly from their website here.

Media enquiries to

Digi2Market is an EU funded project under the Interreg Northern Periphery and Artic Programme. The partners in the project are Údarás na Gaeltachta & WestBIC from Ireland, ICBAN and Ulster University from Northern Ireland, Karelia University of Applied Sciences from Finland and SSNV (Business Devel­opment Agency) from Iceland.