CTIC RuralTech: Fostering Smart Territories through Innovation and Collaboration

CTIC RuralTech

CTIC RuralTech is one of the headquarters of CTIC Technology Centre, one of the partners of the DATA CELLAR consortium, that is a driving agent for innovation and a technology partner for companies and administrations. CTIC RuralTech is located in the parish of Peón, in the council of Villaviciosa (Asturias, Spain) on a 17,000 m2 plot, and it is an experimentation centre for technology and innovation for rural territorial development. The centre aims to test digital solutions from different industrial sectors, such as agri food, energy and health.

CTIC RuralTech was created in 2021 in a strategic move to drive the concept of smart territories. Its mission was rooted in key objectives: to become a hub for progressive rural ideation; to drive technological innovation for rural enterprises and people’s quality of life; and to showcase technology demonstrations for rural environments.

The success of the living lab is rooted to the collaboration between the local community and CTIC RuralTech, CTIC’s premises in the Valley. These fulfil the role of a territorial innovation centre specialised in territorial intelligence and technological innovation and which is strongly integrated in the local community.

The center is based on the concept of TERRITORIAL INTELLIGENCE, defined as the knowledge necessary to understand and comprehend the systemic functioning, dynamics and structures of the territory. It also encompasses the instruments and techniques to make the most of this knowledge, ensuring that the interventions allow for its sustainability. This involves a participatory approach for local communities, leveraging their knowledge to develop strategies that integrate social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability and hybridise it with technological innovation.

The different actions carried out in the living lab can be grouped in three categories: social innovation actions, actions to deploy supporting infrastructure and technological innovation actions.

Regarding social innovation category, CTIC RuralTech has developed several actions involving schools and citizens. Within the premises of CTIC RuralTech, there is a rural primary school that develops its activity in a building ceded for school use to the Regional Ministry of Education, and which involves a differential factor generating interesting educational synergies.  There is also a web architecture created by CTIC Ruraltech which is a project of “cooperative intelligence” with the citizens to recover and digitise the heritage of the valley.

As for actions to deploy supporting infrastructure, with the aim to produce and consume energy locally and to generate a replicable model, CTIC RuralTech is consuming energy produced in a photovoltaic plant for shared energy use. Another example is the climate simulator, an infrastructure for the development of Agriculture 4.0 projects from the perspective of research and development in digital technologies (software and hardware). The centre is also developing a rural data hub, which is an infrastructure for the collection, storage and processing of all the data received from the sensor distributed throughout the Peón valley.

Thirdly, CTIC RuralTech is implementing technological innovation actions. One of them is a cider digital passport with blockchain, which provides more demanding consumers with reliable information on the origin and processing of the products they buy. Another example is an apple orchard sensing, through which two apple orchards are monitored with IoT technology through the deployment of a weather station and soil sensors to measure environmental variables. These are followed by other actions as water sensorisation of springs, virtual fences, fire prevention risk maps and sensorisation of beehives.

CTIC RuralTech envisions fostering a vibrant community of stakeholders committed to the advancement of rural technologies. The center seeks to facilitate knowledge sharing, collaboration, and partnership among diverse entities, including businesses, researchers and policymakers.

It stands poised to contribute significantly to the evolution of rural landscapes into intelligent, technologically empowered territories. CTIC RuralTech is well-positioned to become an accelerator for positive change in rural communities, and it is set to play a crucial role in shaping the future of smart and sustainable rural development.

RuralTech map