NIKOSNewsLarge EU project for the care region of the future

Large EU project for the care region of the future

Improving the quality of life of citizens in outlying European regions, including Gelderland-Midden, and thereby stimulating their economic growth, is the dream behind the new European project dRural. This project, which brings together thirty participants from four European countries, aims to co-develop and implement a digital solution for each region. This EU project has an overall budget of €15 million and will launch on 1 January 2021. 

In the Netherlands, five parties will be taking part in this international project: Rijnstate Hospital in Arnhem, the municipality of Lingewaard, the Stichting Welzijn Lingewaard foundation, the Health Valley Netherlands care innovation network, and the University of Twente. The project component for this pilot region has a budget of nearly €2.5 million and will run for the next three and a half years. The project focuses on ‘the care region of the future’ and its relationship with the virtual hospital of the future being developed by Rijnstate. All care partners in the region, including general practitioners, will be involved in order to engage wide support. 

“The municipality of Lingewaard is always working to better organise the support extended to our most vulnerable residents, and prevention plays an important role in this. Digital solutions can help in prevention as well as care. So we’re proud to be able to contribute to this project,” says Aart Slob, Lingewaard’s alderman for social affairs. “It offers an opportunity to structure the home-based care needs of the most vulnerable people in a customised way,” says Marc Rinkes, manager of Science and Knowledge at Rijnstate. 

Pilot areas

The dRural project is directed principally towards building a service network for more rural communities in the following four European regions: Extremadura (Spain), Jämtland Härjedalen (Sweden), Dubrovnik-Neretva (Croatia) and Gelderland-Midden (the Netherlands). These will function as pilot areas. If they prove to be a success, comparable partnerships will be forged in other European regions. 

The University of Twente is the only academic partner involved in dRural. Its Department of High-tech Business & Entrepreneurship is participating with a budget of €0.8 million. Professor Bart Nieuwenhuis and Dr Michel Ehrenhard are work package leaders within the European project. Professor Bart Nieuwenhuis and Dr Ariane von Raesfeld Meijer are involved in the identification of stakeholders within the regional ecosystems and the business models development, and Dr Michel Ehrenhard in the evaluation of the pilots.

By-design approach

The digital solution building process will follow ‘agile’ methods and ensure that end-users are involved in the co-creation and validation of each regional demonstrator. This approach takes account of such issues as ethics, privacy and data protection. Possible solutions will then be set up in the regions as required, and in collaboration with local providers.


At the same time, a partnership between parties relevant to the dRural solutions will be set up in each region, by identifying its current needs and key stakeholders. This project will offer commercial opportunities, since SMEs and start-ups can also participate in the tendering process. 

This will create a care community that also works to improve the vitality of a region’s inhabitants through prevention (e.g. through the reduction of stress and childhood obesity). It will form a chain of tailor-made care provision in the care region of the future. For up-to-date information on this project, see

drs. M.M.J. van Hillegersberg - Hofmans (Martine)
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