Two locations and two timeframes for the seminars as well as constant readiness of the Joint Secretariat staff to discuss any detailed questions provided the applicants with convenient opportunities to dive into the application procedures. First in Berlin on 12-13 October, and then in Riga on 19-20 October, the twin Project Development Seminars gathered representatives of all 75 selected concept notes in the areas of innovation, natural resources and sustainable transport.
Making procedures familiar
Having received a green light from the Managing Authority of the Interreg Baltic Sea Programme, authors of concept notes are expected to submit their full applications by 17 January 2017. Considering the complexity of the procedures, the two one-day Project Development Seminars followed by a day of individual project consultations aimed at explaining the rules and peculiarities in more detail. Among other things, the applicants learned about setting proper project objectives, outputs and results, the composition of an efficient work plan as well as various types of partnerships. Moreover, separate sessions were devoted to financial issues as well as available state aid instruments. The applicants were also guided through major sections of the online application form in the BAMOS system. Most useful dos and don’ts, examples from previous calls as well as immediate feedback to questions complemented the sessions.
On the second day of each seminar, the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat (MA/JS) staff offered individual consultations to discuss particular needs of the applicants.
“The concept note stage was much easier; now things are becoming quite complex,” said Reet Reismaa from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia who is leading the preparation of a DIGINNO project on a digital innovation network that shall bring relevant policymakers, industry and stakeholders of the Baltic Sea Region together. Being double-hatted also as a Policy Area Coordinator for Innovation, she has already been involved in the Interreg programme: “I have known lots of things before but it is always good to confirm that I am thinking in the right way.” Ms Reismaa also said that she was especially looking forward to individual consultations to get more clarifications project wise.
“It is important to understand the idea behind all the questions,” admitted Adam Cenian from the Polish Academy of Sciences who is leading the preparations for the LowTEMP project on low temperature district heating infrastructures for energy efficiency. “Our expectation is to get information where the problematic issues are and, indeed, our doubts are being clarified. We will also have more time to discuss our project at the consultations,” explained Mr Cenian who was already involved in three other projects in previous editions of the programme.
Russia as full Interreg Baltic Sea Region partner
Among the Seminar participants, there was Elena Belova from the Russian Leontief Centre who also represented the Russian national sub-committee. In fact, her presence marked a historic development for the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme as the Russian partners can fully participate in the programme from now on. Already in the previous programming period, Russian partners as associated organisations actively supported transnational projects in the Baltic Sea region. Now, this fruitful cooperation will go one step further as they will be entitled to financially benefit from the programme. “We are restarting our activities as real partners with the real roles and responsibilities. We are very grateful to the Joint Secretariat for doing such a good job in providing immediate information to potential lead applicants,” she said hoping that this will encourage more project owners to work together with Russian partners. Again, considering the value of transnational cooperation, this will be another opportunity to enhance partnerships within the Baltic Sea region.
Messengers of transnational cooperation
Nevertheless, there was one more thing about the seminars that shall not be left aside: such events contribute to building a community of people, enterprises and institutions for whom transnational initiatives give more credence and value for action. In this context “Be active messengers of transnational cooperation!” – as Eeva Rantama, Team Leader Project Unit at Interreg Baltic Sea Region, stated at the very beginning of the Seminar is so much valid.