In 2020 we celebrate 30 years of Interreg. On this occasion, we asked representatives of the Interreg South Baltic Programme projects, regional authorities, as well as local people and activists to share their experiences about the Interreg funds and the cross-border cooperation.
Jan Persson, Project Leader representing Krinova Incubator & Science Park in Kristianstad in Sweden, shares his experience from the perspective of the Lead Partner in WISA project.
Let’s talk about Interreg!
We are standing in the Port of Åhus – one of southern Sweden’s most significant bulk ports. This port is one of the partners in project WISA, a 3-year project that will end in May 2022. WISA is an acronym for Water Innovation System Amplifier. The main challenge addressed by this project is handling pollutants in stormwater in seaport areas around the South Baltic Sea region.
There is an increasing demand to reduce pollutants that end up in the stormwater and the aim is to develop and test new green technologies to reduce pollution by stormwater from ports and other large hard surfaces. The health of the Baltic Sea is a very clear common challenge that needs to be solved in a broad partnership.
In the WISA project the port of Åhus, Klaipeda, as well as Gdynia and Gdansk are taking part in the project together with the respective port’s local university. Krinova is the project's owner and plays a coordinating role. There is valuable experience within each participating region around the Baltic Sea.
Establishing new cross-border contacts and relationships between actors from the participating countries and also involving networks across sectors in the South Baltic region brings new values to each project partner’s organisation We expect a number of innovations which will contribute to sustainable development, especially ecological, but also economic as well as social development.
Through the overall focus on green technology for handling stormwater, there can potentially bring new green jobs and sustainable economic growth. In the South Baltic Programme, the Baltic sea that we share is a given priority. The results of the Interreg programmes have had a great impact and positive effect on the environment. I think that Interreg should continue as previously, namely focusing on cross-regional challenges which the countries involved share and that are appropriate to meet jointly.
The Programme has also played a major role in engaging smaller players, a programme area focusing on making contacts and building networks is very valuable. As I understand, Europe has a huge challenge in that large parts of our workforce do not have the skills that are demanded right now and that the level of skills is decreasing rather than growing. This challenge is related to the ability to innovate in individuals and organisations but also the resilience of our societies. If you want to identify challenges that can be tackled regionally, then the ability to innovate is a good area to focus on.
*The video was produced by the project's Lead Partner - Krinova AB