The Interreg programmes ("European Territorial Co-operation objective") support project activities based on cooperation within a fixed geography concerning a number of themes (innovation, sustainable development, green growth, workforce, employment, education and functional cooperation), while the Horizon 2020 and Erasmus programmes focus on research, innovation and education.
From 2014 significant changes have been made within the Interreg programmes that deserve attention. Up to now only public companies have been able to get involved, but from now on entrants can also include private businesses or institutions.
Merger and private partners
Previously, two German-Danish growth areas were in the INTERREG 4A programme, but in the new Interreg 5A programme Deutschland-Danmark, Fehmarnbeltregion in the east and Southern Denmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. in the west are merged into one area. Although the merger indicates focus on impact and large strategic projects, the 5A programme has also made it one of its priorities to support projects with specific relations to the Fehmarnbelt Link, which needless to say is highly relevant for STRING.
Use the guidelines
A request for EU funding calls for certain precision, and it is not a bad idea to find help before embarking on the task. Help can be found via the STRING Secretariat. The joint Interreg Secretariat in Kruså and Kiel also offers advice to companies involved in the whole German-Danish Interreg growth area (from east to west), including how to develop an application process in general. For Interreg Baltic Sea Region and North Sea Region, the Secretariats are found in Rostock and Viborg. It is possible to ask for advice over the phone, via email or through meetings with involved companies. Additionally private experts are offering guidance as well.
It would be an advantage to be open-minded when contemplating the many funding programmes before going as far as planning the application process. Thinking outside of the box is often rewarding. Most organisations only send one application to one programme, concerning a limited project, which naturally restricts the potential impact the project can have. In reality, several funding programmes either running simultaneously or as project sequences succeeding each other can supplement each other and fund a range of measures. Consequently, several sub-projects can pave the way to the required effect.
The sub-project model can also be used to initiate a project that e.g. deals with a larger geography than the growth area and involves partners outside of it. In many circumstances, an Interreg project functioning as a sub-project with a more regional object than the main cross-frontier project would be beneficial. External partners can also participate in a project as network partners.
An important basis for applying or partnering in EU funded projects is, naturally, to have network interests across borders and to have shared interests in mind. In general there are three important guidelines that are central when treating EU funded projects:
1) Have a good idea and be able to express your project's impact.
2) Write a detailed and technically correct application.
3) There must be some awareness of your project even before it begins.
The communication efforts are essential for your project to gain support, participation and impact.