[Translate to English:] Die DSTATION in Schöppenstedt beherbergt die Teilnehmer:innen des Lab4Land.

Lab4Land: Supporting start-ups in rural areas

September 7 marked the beginning of the Lab4Land accelerator, the first program in Germany specifically designed to support start-up founders in rural areas. Lab4Land wants to move the start-up scene forward in rural regions throughout Germany, making it more appealing for young people to live and work in non-urban areas. SmartCountry is supporting the lab in the town of Schöppenstedt east of Hannover.


The changes caused by the corona pandemic have led more and more people to appreciate the advantages of working in rural areas. In recent months, many employers have asked employees do their jobs from home. Things will probably not return to “business as usual” once the pandemic ends, and employees will be able to work remotely more often than they could in the past.

Business ideas developed in rural areas for rural areas

Work has become mobile – a welcome development for rural communities. It is giving them the opportunity to become more attractive to people who previously did their jobs in metropolitan areas, since more time spent in a home office means less time commuting. And when people no longer need to commute, areas located far from traditional centers of employment become more appealing as places to live and work.

Communities in rural areas are not merely passive spectators when it comes to the developments brought about by new forms of work. They can benefit by becoming more attractive to people who previously traveled to an urban office – for example, by offering them co-working spaces that make it appealing to remain on site in the community. They can also become an incubator of new ideas. The Lab4Land project in the town of Schöppenstedt east of Hannover is doing just that – by promoting business ideas developed in rural areas for rural Areas.

Entrepreneurial solutions to problems in rural environments

September 7 marked the start of Lab4Land, a four-week accelerator that will focus on four start-ups. Thanks to support provided by the accelerator, the start-ups’ founders will be able to further develop their business ideas into market-ready solutions. The founders want to take an entrepreneurial approach to overcoming some of the problems rural communities face. Contacts in the region around Wolfenbüttel will be used to network the founders with potential customers, since that is the only way to determine whether there is truly any demand for their ideas. 

Lab4Land was initiated by Stiftung Zukunftsfonds Asse in Wolfenbüttel, CoWorkland eG in Kiel and DSTATION in Schöppenstedt, all of which are providing ongoing support. The three partners have many years of experience in the rural start-up scene and in the field of social entrepreneurship, and they would like to share that experience across Germany’s various regions. Lab4Land is also receiving support from our SmartCountry project and from the project Betriebliche Arbeitswelt in der Digitalisierung (Workplaces in the Age of Digitalization).

Until now, people have generally associated start-ups with major metropolitan areas. That is where the educational institutions are located that innovative thinkers use as launching pads for their business ideas. That is also where the necessary funding is found, along with qualified staff. Yet most potential customers are located outside of big cities. In Germany, almost 60 percent of the population lives in communities with less than 50,000 inhabitants (58.95% according to our calculations, based on data from Statista). The approach taken by Lab4Land – promoting entrepreneurial ideas that could solve challenges faced by rural areas – is therefore consistent with current realities. We look forward to hearing about the founders’ experiences and will integrate what we learn into our future project work.