A story called Idanha (Background)
It all started in 2012, during the post-crisis, when Portugal started receiving attention from the international press. Since then, the number of tourists hasn’t stopped increasing. Even though, on one hand, tourist curiosity has put Portugal on everyone’s lips throughout the world, on the other hand, it also damaged its public space, life conditions, as well as opportunities. And above all, quality of life and well-being.
The population is increasingly concentrating around large cities, for instance, resulting in Lisbon and Porto exceeding their capacities. The housing bubble has soared with the incoming mass tourism. Be it from north to south, or from the coast to the centre, investments have become imbalanced. Portugal lost its connection to the countryside and, in turn, the countryside has been depopulated for the last 50 years.
Idanha-a-Nova could simply be just another inland Municipality. It borders Spain, offers visitors its green valleys’ fresh air, where they can hear the birds, and not ever feel in a hurry, and instead, just slow living. Here, time has a different flavour, and so does the organic food that is served at the table. Nature keeps us company and inspires us. Thoughts become as clear as the waters of the Ponsul river.
Idanha-a-Nova could tell us the story we all know: The common idea of the isolated and unpopulated rural world. Where time was not easy to those who stoically endured, since the region had 35,000 inhabitants in the past, in comparison to just over 8,000 nowadays, the second-lowest population density in the country. The streets reflect a strong land, with resisting faces from who witnessed their family and friends’ departures in search of a better life – far from the countryside.
Finding solutions to the countryside (Desafio)
Armindo Jacinto, Mayor of Idanha-a-Nova, saw the region’s adversities as an opportunity and contacted Bloom Consulting to redefine Idanha’s positioning for the following 10 years, and create a Place Brand. “We rejected the idea that rural life is just a term for isolation and underdevelopment, so we decided to work on Idanha’s perceptions and Place Brand, and prepare for the future,” he says.
Idanha-a-Nova is a lesson for the rest of Portugal: face the challenge and look for solutions. Its territory offers nature and fertile soils, people carry memory and tradition and the land inspires innovation and modernity. In contrast to the increasingly uncharismatic cities, this Municipality has managed to stay true to its rural identity and has become an example of strength and positive change.
With a vast historical territory that has fostered various European nations, Idanha is a place where custom and progress cohabit peacefully. Without questioning natural purity and traditions, its residents were able to roll up their sleeves and, with a smile on their faces, create outstanding conditions for the development of the Place Brand defined by Bloom Consulting. When looking at the Roman bridge, we feel the appeal of roots we don’t have, but always sought.
The ideal place to Restart (Strategy)
To this energy and will, Bloom Consulting added a vision, in symbiosis with wanting to make it happen. We listened to Idanha’s local people and the main stakeholders of the region, we made field visits, and gauged to the real state of the territory and Place Brand. We applied ourselves with this population that never gave up. We shared each other’s fears, found solutions together, celebrated victories. And that’s how the Restart strategy was born.
With the virtue and inspiration present in the countryside, the quality of life provided by this Municipality is the greatest resource for those who want to Restart a new family and a new life in a place with a unique proximity to nature. The Lourenço family demonstrates this. Marta and Tiago are both from Lisbon and have made the most important decision of their lives: moving to Idanha-a-Nova. Followed step by step by the Restart team, they don’t have any doubts: “There is no better place to raise our children”.
People are Restarting to believe again. In their dreams, in their family lives, in their futures – in Idanha-a-Nova. Already 1051 people are being accompanied by the Idanha Vive and Idanha Experimenta programs, where they have the opportunity to have the life they had always envisioned.
Rosanna and Shawn William moved from the United Kingdom with their three children. British by birth, they already consider themselves Monsantins at heart: “We had long sought our dream place and found it in the village of Monsanto. We are really starting everything over in Idanha.” This family feels that they finally belong to a place where there is time, space, and security allowing them to enjoy every moment, where you can reinforce ties and move forward together, and where they feel they are part of a community.
This is one of the biggest achievements of the new Idanha Brand: reversing the demographic curve, where the migration balance rose, and the population grew for the first time in 70 years. This is also proved in Bloom Consulting Portugal City Brand Ranking©, in which Idanha has risen 20 positions in the Living dimension of the Centre region, since 2014. It is a choice in the name of the family, peace, harmony and quality of life.
Also, companies are Restarting to connect with the field. With land-bound identity, Idanha’s strategy has unlimited potential for new business creation, enabling a smooth transition back up by the fertile environment and available structures. There are already about 348 entities whose projects are underway or under review for being included in the Idanha Green Valley program.
Living Seeds is one of the projects based in Idanha-a-Nova under the new Place Brand. “When we looked for a place for an innovative project, Idanha was the obvious choice,” says Stephan Doeblin, director of this company that produces and processes free-pollinated, high-quality biological and biodynamic seeds.
Living Seeds is established in Idanha Food Lab’s rural-based business incubator as a result of Bloom Consulting’s strategy. Due to the notoriety achieved, it has already managed to accommodate an investment of 7.5 million euros and the creation of 35 direct jobs, making it a company that is already a banner for the ecological and innovative positioning of this Municipality.
Businesses related to rurality and tourism believe that this region is 100% innovative and an aggregator of technological knowledge. This is proved by the 312 job positions already filled and the 29 million euros already invested in the region, under Bloom Consulting’s strategy development.
Located in the central region of Portugal, in Castelo Branco’s district, Idanha Municipality is the fourth largest in the country, with 1416 km² and curiously being 2.3 times larger than Madrid, the city of which it is equidistant, in addition to Lisbon and Porto. It’s a huge territory, in which a team of county employees are implementing the brand strategy Restart, with our support. Four programs with 27 projects, all operational and already bearing fruit.
With greater media coverage and online exposure, the events, culture, and typical products of Idanha have been reaching more people, triggering interest towards the Municipality that hosts the charming historic villages of Monsanto and Penha Garcia. Thus, it is also up to residents to share their knowledge and traditions in the context of the Idanha Made In program. Thanks to this, we can promote market local products, both inside and outside the country.
International Recognition (Results)
Home to the popular Boom Festival, Idanha-a-Nova is the centre of sustainability. It is the 1st Bio-Region in Portugal, with land exclusively dedicated to the sustainable management of local resources, consciously involving the entire local community, including farmers, producers, consumers, and schools. In 2019, it hosted the International Forum of Relevant Territories for Sustainable Food Systems, which featured important entities such as FAO, CPLP, and representatives of the Portuguese government.
This Municipality also offers the best environmental and technological solutions in the market at Idanha Food Lab, a living laboratory that aims to help startupsand traditional companies to respond to the sustainability challenges of the agri-food sector, in Portugal and the rest of the world. The laboratory has hundreds of participants from all continents.
It is the first of its kind on the Iberian Peninsula and is equipped in a way that many technologies can be tested. “Idanha has become a place of great opportunities,” according to Gonçalo Amorim, manager of Idanha Food Lab Accelerator. They annually organise two bootcamps, involving mentoring and workshops on the three verticals of market application for five months.
In the final phase of the program, a demonstration day takes place, where all teams publicly present their value propositions to a select group of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, investors, and community members.
Besides, every year, a historical train leaves Lisbon just after Websummit and runs along the Tejo River, reaching Idanha for Demo Day, which includes a wide range of topics such as AgriTech, DistributionTech and FoodTech, all provided the Idanha Food Lab.
With three UNESCO endorsements for the Geopark, Biosphere Reserve, and Musical Creativity, Idanha’s Place Brand also received an important distinction from City Nation Place in 2018 for its vision, ambitions and results of Restart strategy, being placed ahead of world-renowned destinations such as Barcelona, Scotland and Estonia. City Nation Place is an organisation that involves experts and entities responsible for the strategies of Place Branding on a global scale.
“A dream came true!” Confessed Armindo Jacinto, the Mayor of Idanha, at the time. “For the first time, a small European interior location achieves this result thanks to the creativity of its strategy. And it is the first time that a Portuguese region has achieved this distinction by surpassing such consolidated destinations, with which it is very difficult to compete, managing budgets incomparably higher than Idanha’s budget”, he continued. “This award gives us encouragement for the work we are doing and demonstrates that Idanha is on the right track,” he concluded.
This sentiment is shared by Filipe Roquette, director of Bloom Consulting in Portugal, as he considers that “Idanha-a-Nova, through its ‘Restart’ territorial strategy, shows the world that it is possible to innovate and succeed in the rural world, constantly delivering fascinating results. “
This is the recognition Idanha has already earned. It was achieved by working on the strength of the brand every day, by asserting itself more and more as a reference in the rural world, and by being able to attract talent, capture investment, and create jobs. A commitment that impacts the local economy. Idanha wins, Portugal wins.
This is the path that Bloom Consulting has set out with its strategy and implementation, which it will proudly follow until 2025, side by side with the locals. With a clear vision of making Idanha-a-Nova the new centre for quality of life, knowledge, and rural innovation, we are making the return to the countryside real. But this time, it’s to a differentiated, prosperous and, modern countryside. A more balanced life in the social, environmental, and economic sphere, provided with comfort and amenities.
This is where we are going and not looking back.
Idanha-a-Nova, the place to Restart. A business, a family, a life.
“Idanha-a-Nova, through Bloom Consulting’s ‘Restart’ Place Branding strategy, shows the world that it is possible to innovate and succeed in the rural world, constantly delivering fascinating results.”
Armindo Jacinto, Mayor of Idanha-a-Nova