Purpose – This study explores policy and practice in relation to a peripheral rural region food support programme for small (micro) food enterprises and the impact on business development and innovation. Methodology/approach – An exploratory case study methodology is employed focusing on the effectiveness of a local support programme for micro business development in the food sector, in a European Union peripheral, rural location. Findings – The effective integration of policy and practice in the design and implementation of a public/private partnership programme can enable micro businesses to benefit from Government aid in a collective manner that would not have been possible in a Government–micro enterprise dyadic relationship. Research limitations/implications – The study focuses on one region and on one particular support programme. However, the research highlights the potential benefits that can accrue to micro food producers, and micro companies more generally from participation in such a programme, and identifies the types of support that are particularly effective for these types of organisations. The research identifies the possibilities and challenges of applying the South Eastern Economic Development type programme to other regions. Practical implications – The success of such support programmes depends on identifying the needs of the participants at an early stage in the programme and in tailoring training and support accordingly. There are benefits from local government working closely with private consultants as brokers for micro enterprise business development and innovation. Social implications – Micro enterprises play key economic, social and cultural roles within their local rural community. Collectively they offer opportunities for rural employment and tourism development. Originality/value – The chapter addresses a major gap in knowledge around the role of policies and supports in assisting business development and innovation in relation to micro size enterprises, and more specifically food micro enterprises based in peripheral, rural regions.
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