St Helens Council will lead an action plan for Merseyside aimed at making the county an attractive area for rural economic development.
Sefton, Wirral, Halton and Knowsley councils, together with The Mersey Partnership, the Mersey Forest, and North West Development Agency, commissioned the research.
Research experts Rural Innovation will undertake the study, together with economic development expert Robert Huggins, Professor of management and policy at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff and director of the Centre for International Competitiveness.
Cllr Richard Ferry, executive member for urban regeneration & housing at St Helens Council, said: "Working together on a major study of this nature will help us to build a true picture of our rural economy and give us an informed baseline from which we can move forward, identifying appropriate projects and, where possible, attracting the funding that will make them happen."
The research follows on from that already done in St Helens in 2007.