Thursday, 29 June 2017 10:21

“Transnational collaboration needed in all funding programmes, at all levels”

Written by  Let's communicate! project

“Let’s communicate!” project organized a session on funding the EUSBSR in the Connectivity Lounge of the 8th Annual Forum organized in Berlin.

Seven funding programmes and organisations participated the panel discussion:

Camilla Wristel, Swedish Institute
Maija Sirola, BONUS Programme
Maira Mora, Council of the Baltic Sea States
Ronald Lieske, Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme
Jakub Fedorowicz, Interreg South Baltic Programme
Niclas Forsling, Nordic Council of Ministers
Peter Eulenhöfer, Brandenburg Region

Participants presented briefly their upcoming funding opportunities and discussed on a more general level how to connect their instrument and funds even closer to the EUSBSR framework.

Fundinf session

Upcoming calls and links to the EUSBSR

Swedish Institute provides seed funding for projects with a main applicant from Sweden and a minimum of three partners. The next call will open later in 2017. The funding instrument is closely connected to the EUSBSR as applicants need to identify how the project is linked to the Strategy’s objectives. More information about the seed funding is available on Swedish Institute’s website.

BONUS programme will organize a “mini call” in the autumn 2017 to make sure all the available funds are used. Focus of the call will be on synthesizing and clustering between projects and on the results that become apparent only after the project implementation time. The EUSBSR framework has a significant role for BONUS projects as a platform for cross-sectoral cooperation. BONUS projects also directly contribute to EUSBSR objectives and the linkages to Policy Areas and Horizontal Actions are increasing. There are also few Flagships among the BONUS projects! More information about the mini call on BONUS website.

Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) has a seed funding instrument called Project Support Facility (PSF) which aims at supporting the development of larger scale projects. With the 1 million euros available for three years PSF supports projects in line with the CBSS Strategy which goes hand in hand with the EUSBSR and its Policy Areas and Horizontal Actions. More information about the next call will appear on CBSS website.

Interreg Baltic Sea Region has been strongly linked to the EUSBSR: it finances many Flagships of the Strategy, provides seed money for the EUSBSR project preparation, offers technical support for the Policy Area and Horizontal Action coordination and other targeted support and communication activities for the EUSBSR. The third call, and at the same time the last large call, of the Programme will open in the autumn 2017 with 60 million euros (less than 35 %) of funds available. There will also be another call for seed money projects. More information on the calls on Interreg Baltic Sea Region’s website.

Interreg South Baltic Programme is also closely connected to the EUSBSR and projects funded by the programme are expected to contribute to the Strategy’s objectives. There is an ongoing call to be closed in 30 June and the next call will open in November 2017. In the Programme there is still over 30 million euros (about 45 %) left for projects to be funded. More information on Interreg South Baltic website.

Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) offers several funding schemes for Nordic countries. Projects often have a larger effect on the whole region and thus also contribute to the EUSBSR objectives. The NCM funds are normally channelled through different organisations. The list of NCM funds and priorities of all NCM funding is available on their website.

In the Federal State of Brandenburg (Germany) the existing funds of mainstream ERDF programmes are used to support also transnational cooperation of clusters and SMEs. The link to the EUSBSR framework is not direct but the overlap between priorities of the programme, Brandenburg regional strategy and the EUSBSR are significant. Unfortunately, the participation in joint transnational calls has proved to be limited. More information about the regional opportunities in Brandenburg on the website of Brandenburg Invest.

How to improve?

Future needs for improvement were discussed in the panel. Maija Sirola, BONUS Programme, emphasized the need for supporting projects in publication of the results available only after the implementation time. Only in this way the full potential of the project results can be reached. According to BONUS statistics, around 70 % of the publications come out only after the project implementation phase. Sirola also pointed out the challenge of keeping up with the new topics that need to be addressed by the programme funding, like research on microplastics.

The representatives of seed money facilities, Maira Mora, CBSS, and Camilla Wristel, Swedish Institute, pointed out that there is room for improvement both in evaluating which preliminary project idea would have the capacity to be funded in the future and in the follow-up of the projects and their results. It is difficult to observe which of the seed money projects have later developed into larger scale projects and received funding, i.e. have a long term result. Ronald Lieske from Interreg Baltic Sea Region also emphasized that too many of their seed money projects apply funds only from Interreg programmes. With the seed money it is possible also to target more ambitious and bigger funding schemes, like mainstream funds or Horizon 2020.

Clustering and using several funding sources is also something that should be improved. Jakub Fedorowicz gave an example from Interreg South Baltic Programme where the Interreg funding has been used to test a pilot of a Horizon2020 project.

Niclas Forsling from the NCM pointed out also that transnational cooperation should also be made possible for the mainstream EU-funds: regional actors should have the access to funds that make transnational component in the project possible. ERDF Managing Authority Network has been established for addressing this need and there will be a call for already existing projects to apply funds for transnational cooperation (read more about the Network here).

It was generally acknowledged that there is still a lot to be done in working closer together and linking the EUSBSR objectives more strongly to all funding programmes. Clustering between projects funded by different instruments would be very important to avoid overlaps and duplications of efforts. Clustering also increases the importance of all the projects involved and allows continuum to take place. Addressing this need, e.g. Interreg Baltic Sea Region will open a separate call for project platforms in the coming autumn. Also BONUS has already made clustering between projects possible.


All panelists agreed that the EUSBSR would benefit from greater collaboration and interlinkages between various funding programmes and projects. Greater impact can be achieved by joining individual efforts. It also needs to be remembered that the instruments presented in the panel discussion are in not the only programmes to be considered when thinking about funding the EUSBSR.


As the moderator of the session, Baiba Liepa, concluded the discussion: “Look after project implementation! Bring projects together! Transnational collaboration is needed in all programmes and at all levels. There are very good initiatives already in place and we can be proud of them!” 


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