In connection to the 12th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, two Interreg Baltic Sea Region projects, cities.multimodal and Baltic Blue Biotechnology Alliance+, had the pleasure to host the representatives of the European Commission.
As this year Annual Forum took place in Lithuania, the site visits were successfully arranged by the Lithuanian organisations on 29th September in Vilnius and on 1st October in Klaipeda. The European Commission Delegation included Sławomir Tokarski, Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of the Competence Centre for “Macro-regions, Transnational, Interregional and External Cooperation, Enlargement” and Petri Koistinen, Policy Coordinator responsible for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region. The site visits provided an opportunity to develop a better understanding of how the projects streamlined their initiatives and worked transnationally. The up-close view of the sites allowed to showcase how joint initiatives can be put in action and generate concrete results. The visits were valuable as they not only demonstrated the work being done, but provided a great opportunity for exchange and inspiration.
City multimodality in focus
On 29th September Vilnius Municipality Administration and Municipal Enterprise “Susisiekimo paslaugos” welcomed the European Commission Delegation and demonstrated the impressive work on increasing city multimodality. The cities.multimodal project partners shared their views on the latest infrastructure developments and the public transport challenges that the city of Vilnius is currently facing. Among the inspiring places, the visit included for instance a demonstration of cycling paths, two multimodal points with high security bike storage, bike sharing possibilities, cycling streets and other sustainable modes of transport like electric scooters, moto rollers. Taking into consideration that opportunities for cycling and walking are in general more underdeveloped in city planning compared to motorized traffic, more resources and incentives are needed to enhance sustainable urban mobility planning. Thanks to the participation at the Interreg project, the upscaled cycling infrastructure has become a reality in Vilnius.
The Delegation shared reflections on the dialogue with the Lithuanian partners by saying “During the exchange, it was noted that transition from car dominance towards other forms of transportation is facing very similar challenges everywhere. The greening of cities as well as the pandemic have however triggered unprecedented investment in cycling around Europe, and we can see – for example – the more you give space for bicycles, the more they will use it.”
© Saulius Žiūra, Birutė Jatautaitė
Getting inspired in Klaipeda
The Lithuanian tour continued to Klaipeda where the EU Commission Delegation was welcomed by the partners of the project Baltic Blue Biotechnology Alliance+, Klaipeda Science and Technology Park and Klaipeda University. The partners presented their involvement in the Interreg project and the related activities with focus on youth engagement. The Delegation had the opportunity to learn that the range of such initiatives is quite wide – the recent international port technology hackathon Portathon 2021 gathered more than 100 innovators from different countries where aquaculture students and young professionals actively join online and physical trainings. A dialogue with youth will continue, as this year many special events are planned in connection to Klaipeda´s nomination to European Youth Capital 2021.
Besides valuable discussions and exchange of views, the EU Commission Delegation had a chance to visit Marine Research Institute and experimental shrimp farming facility at the Business Incubator.
Visit of the experimental shrimp farming facility at the Business Incubator in Klaipėda. © Klaipėda Science and Technology Park photos
Reflections from the EU Commission Delegation
“It was interesting to see that Klaipėda University and Klaipėda Science and Technology Park are such active partners in Interreg. In the framework of the Baltic Sea Forum we were talking a lot about how young people can access Interreg programs and use them for developing their creativity and ideas. It was very encouraging to see how this approach is put into practice here in Klaipėda. We saw quite many fascinating projects that are so different – for example, pioneering shrimp aquaculture or developing electric transport projects. We all are impressed, positively inspired and wish you all the best.”
Sławomir Tokarski, Director, Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
“It was interesting to see how the people, who are organizing the community of innovators here in Klaipėda, have been able to use and mix a variety of different EU funds and to make the best out of them. From my own perspective – it is extremely motivating to visit the projects. Working in Brussels sometimes we do not see the outcomes, so it is really motivating to fill in this gap, to meet people and have a better overview.”
Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of the Competence Centre for “Macro-regions, Transnational, Interregional and External Cooperation, Enlargement”, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission