PEOPLE - STORIES - CENTRAL EUROPE

circular economy

LET'S NOT WASTE THIS CRISIS

Smart Re-Use Park © SURFACE

The current pandemic has not only severely impacted our healthcare systems. It is also affecting our society and econ­omy. According to the World Bank, the economic damage is already evident and represents the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades. Almost 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide as a result of COVID-19. 

But as the saying goes, there is something good in everything bad, and this pandemic could be an opportunity for us to learn to value things more, to give them a second chance. Every year, we throw away goods worth millions of Euros simply because we can afford it. Even if they could be easily repaired or reused. 

Partners in our project SURFACE recognised that extending the product lifecycle is key to a circular economy in central Europe and beyond. They have created a network of Smart Re-Use Parks, which offer reuse-oriented services in a modular way in urban areas. But why are they smart? Because each park combines different, unique services that best respond to the local urban waste prevention goals. Be it reuse-collection points and shops, repair cafes, repair and upcycling workshops, rental services, swapping platforms or educational labs.

In Vicenza for example, when due to COVID-19 restrictions people spent a lot of time at home with their families, the project organised a challenge called "Losing Weight" in waste produced at home. The challenge gained a lot of interest and helped to sensitize people to the waste they produce in their homes.

In Austria, they ran a series of online webinars on reuse possibilities in Tyrol and at home with DIY tips on how to reuse or repair old clothes, furniture, books or bicycles. 

If you are interested in setting up a Smart Re-Use Park in your region, or maybe just want to learn how to repair your bicycle, get in touch with a SURFACE project partner close to you and check out the services that they offer.

www.interreg-central.eu/surface

commuting

CYCLING AS A NEW NORMAL

Bicycle stand © Alex Loidl

What do Amsterdam and Prešov have in common? At first glance nothing at all. But both cities are demonstrating that it is possible to reduce the use of private cars in city centres by increasing the number of cyclists.

As Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, recently said, "The post-pandemic future will be a ‘Golden Age’ for cycling." And indeed, the way we are commuting is slowly changing. Cycling is becoming more and more popular, not just in the Netherlands.

In the eastern Slovakian town Prešov, it was never to be an easy journey to change commuting habits, full of obstacles both physical as well as emotional. Physical because a cycling path network had to be created from scratch. And emotional because commuters did not like the idea of taking a bicycle in the beginning.

Thanks to cooperation in our CentralMeetBike project this journey became a bit easier to manage. Even though the project finished already five years ago, cooperation among its partners continued. Ever since, Prešov shifted one gear up after another, and soon investments linked to the project resulted in eight new, state-of-the-art bike parking stations. Through an active engagement of citizens, the new stations are now available in locations that are most frequented and help commuters to safely park their bikes.

Learn more about how smart commuting solutions can make our cities smarter

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

REDUCING TEXTILE WASTE IN COVID-19 TIMES

Enter COVID pilot

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use of disposable textile medical equipment. More and more single-use face masks and surgical gloves end up in waste bins. This creates problems for municipalities because it changes their waste streams.

Some of them are trying to find answers beyond borders, for example in our ENTeR project. This project wants to prevent the depletion of non-renewable resources in the textile industry by increasing recycle and reuse approaches in medical textile waste management.

In pilot actions, the partners studied the nature of medical textile waste and are now testing innovative ways for biologically decontaminating waste, which in the end enables recycling and reuse processes.

Learn more about the ENTeR solutions for reducing waste in COVID-19 times.

www.interreg-central.eu/enter

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT

SMARTLY CONNECTING RURAL AREAS WITH CITIES

Rural commuting © SHUTTERSTOCK

Hinterland is a German word meaning "the land behind". Peripheral, rural areas actually make up 88 percent of  EU territory. These scarcely populated regions are often not just "the land behind", but also left behind. They all face similar challenges: limited public service budgets, high rates of out-migration, poor public transport connections and high levels of unsustainable and costly private car use.

This all can change, however, if these regions are better connected with near-by cities. Thanks to cooperation in our project Peripheral Access, residents in the small Austrian municipality of Hart bei Graz can now use a new multimodal “tim” node to get around and to reach the city of Graz. The node helps reduce the use of private cars by smartly connecting public transport modes, park&ride car parks, e-car sharing, on-demand taxis, and bicycle stands.

Until November 2019, “tim” (short for “täglich. intelligent. mobil”, which is German for “daily. intelligent. mobile.”) was only available in the city of Graz itself. Our project helped adapting the system and rolling it out to Graz's periphery in Hart as "Regio.tim".  

As a result of this successful pilot, additional multimodal nodes will be built in nine other municipalities near Graz. This will allow locals to leave their hinterland behind them in a car-free and more sustainable way.

www.interreg-central.eu/peripheralaccess.eu

energy efficiency

A Spotlight on cutting energy waste 

Dynamic street light ©CitiEnGov

Europe is one of the most light-polluted areas on our planet. Almost 60% of Europeans live in areas where the night sky is already so bright that the Milky Way is rendered permanently invisible, says the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness.

In recent years, stricter policies have come into force that aim to reduce overall energy use. Partners in our CitiEnGov project help regions in central Europe to find  solutions to use their energy resources more consciously in line with these new policies. They cooperate on low carbon energy planning and develop innovative strategies that can be easily adapted by other regions. 

The project also tests new approaches in various pilot actions, for example in the Croatian city of Split. There, the local partner installed a state-of-the-art lighting system near Bacvice beach, one of the most visited areas of the city. This showcase of efficient road lighting ultimately sparked a major commitment from the local public administration: They decided to replace lighting systems on a much larger scale,  with 17.000 new bulbs the future of Split will be for sure brighter.

Learn more about how CitiEnGov proves that doing more with less energy is possible thanks to cooperation.

www.interreg-central.eu/citiengov

innovation and skills

HELPING SMALL COMPANIES TO INCREASE THEIR MARKET SHARE

Man crafting hand-made knife © Interreg CE Things / Messermacher

Adding a service dimension to physical products has been perfected by big companies like Philips. They do not sell mere light bulbs anymore, they now offer comprehensive "lighting services".

Smaller companies like manufacturers often struggle in keeping up with this marketing shift. They often miss the skills and capacities to understand service needs behind purchase motivations of customers - and specific training is hardly available.

Richard Kappeller from Austria is one of those affected: His company produces hand-made knives with an international reputation. But selling more knives to new customers remains a challenge. His company struggles to understand what kind of products and services customers expect.

The new THINGS+ servitisation methodology offers a way out for Messermacher and his like. It includes concrete steps to grow business by transforming physical products into smart products with a higher appeal to service-oriented customers.

The methodology has recently won the interest of the renown certification company Bureau Veritas: Together with the project they launched a certification activity that will ultimately help transform the European manufacturing industry into a Smart Industry. 

When developing the methodology, THINGS+ involved over 140 companies that wanted to adapt to new and changing markets. Today, their recommendations on service innovation schemes are taken on-board by regional innovation strategies in Veneto and Lodzkie region. 

Learn more about the THINGS+ servitization methodology for small manufacturers. 

www.interreg-central.eu/thingsplus

museums for all

CreaTING A NEW STANDARD FOR ACCESSBILITY

COME-IN! Label

Museums and their exhibitions are there for everyone to enjoy. But too often reality is different: Barriers prevent disabled people from accessing them. Our COME-IN! project embraced the challenge and helps museums in central Europe and beyond to become more accessible.  

The project created the COME-IN! Label and awards it world-wide to museums that are accessible to disabled people. To receive the label, museums have to comply with a set of standards that were carefully defined by the project partnership.

First evaluations show that early adopters of the label are profiting from the reduction of barriers. The Archeological Museum in Pula, Croatia, prepared the exhibition "Prehistory in our hands - Prapovijest u rukama" and won an award for the best exhibition of the year in Croatia in 2018. Making archeological content more accessible for people with disabilities has ensured constant recognition by local authorities until today.

The Arbeitsmuseum Steyer, an Austrian museum involved in developing the label guidelines, received the National Austrian Museum award in October 2019. One of the reasons was "the effort making exhibitions inclusive and becoming a leading role-model for small and medium sized museums in terms of accessibility."

The Maritime museum of Piran, Slovenia, allows you to experience its barrier-free exhibition from whereever you are. Natalie will guide you through its rooms in a wheel chair.

All these examples show that #cooperationiscentral for listening to the needs of people with disabilities and for acting on their behalf. Check the COME-IN! guidelines and handbooks, wich facilitate our path to full accessibility.

www.interreg-central.eu/come-in

FREIGHT TRANSPORt

CHEMICAL GOODS TRANSPORT IS GOING GREEN 

ChemMultimodal

The European chemical industry transports more than 1.5 billion tonnes of chemical products annually. This requires the strictest safety measures, because consequences of accidents are simply too great. 

Shifting chemicals from road to safer means of transport can significantly decrease this risk and also help our environment. Often however, businesses associate this shift with increased costs and are not willing to make a change. 

Our ChemMultimodal project proves that shifting chemical goods from road to combined multimodal transport is indeed a move in the right direction. In their pilot actions, the project managed to save more than 8448 tonnes of CO2; but more importantly they managed to change the attitude of more than 60 companies. Their managers now understand that safe and sustainable transport is critical to the future of the European chemical industry: "There is no European Green Deal without a strong European industry of the future," says Marco Mensink,  Director General of The European Chemical Industry Council.

In cooperation with companies across central Europe, the ChemMultiModal project partners identified 45 transport routes, which offer huge potential for shifting to multimodal solutions. Their research prepares ground for an improved safety and a better environmental performance to come.

Learn more about how multimodal freight transport is becoming an economically competitive option to road transport.

www.interreg-central.eu/chemmultimodal

business iNnovation

MATCHING SMALL BUSINESSES WITH RESEARCH

Ketgate Interreg CE

Innovation not only means having a creative idea. It is also about quickly transforming the idea into a product. This often requires studies or tests for which smaller businesses (SMEs) lack in-house capacity. External research and technology organisations can offer the necessary technology or facility, but this comes with another challenge: It can easily happen that the right partner is based in a different country. Many SMEs struggle with getting in touch or even knowing about it.

The newly created KETGATE Network provides a way out of this dilemma. It offers the missing link between SMEs and providers of so-called Key Enabling Technologies (KET), which they need to take their innovations forward.

This was the case for LED Luks, a young Slovenian company that creates smart lighting systems. They had the idea for creating a slimmer and more efficient luminaire without reducing the quality of the light. But they could not run the tests by themselves. Through the KETGATE Network, they established a collaboration with the Austrian research centre Joanneum Research who could offer the missing knowledge. Within three months, Joanneum Research experts were able to design the new optical component and test it with their simulation software.

As a result, LED Luks will soon start producing a new luminaire that needs less plastic and aluminium, uses less energy and generates less waste.

Cooperation was central to develop this new lighting product, which is not only smarter but also greener.

www.interreg-central.eu/ketgate

Corona crisis

COOPERATION IS CENTRAL TO COPE WITH A “NEW NORMAL”

Our cities in corona times ©️ Shutterstock

The impact of the pandemic made borders in Europe visible again, sometimes even within the same country. One might think that consequently room for transnational cooperation among regions and cities has decreased.

Indeed, in compliance with various travel and contact restrictions, projects funded under the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme had to cancel many physical meetings and events, which usually facilitate the creation and communication of cooperation results. However, this did not stop them. They continue to work together efficiently for a stronger and more resilient central Europe. And in some cases, they have adapted their work plans and are now developing common solutions to help central European regions and cities cope better with the current emergency.

Read how our projects react to the Corona crisis.

PEOPLE

why cooperation is central for poland

Statement from Polish National Contact Point

"Together we can solve a lot of common problems.

We can join forces to overcome our limits, in terms of coping with challenges which are not only faced by us but by different institutions abroad."

Monika Strojecka-Gevorgyan,Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE National Contact Point in Poland

Watch the full statement here.

people

WHY COOPERATION IS CENTRAL FOR hungary

Statement from Hungarian National Contact Point

"30 years have passed since the Iron Curtain was demolished, but still its former line can be easily tracked on several maps... 

... The challenge now is to abolish an invisible iron curtain. This can only be achieved through cooperation in central Europe."

Lilian Csintalan, Member of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Monitoring Committee

Watch the full statement here.

Fablabs

Supporting innovations in our regions

Girls exploring fablab

If you associate a FabLab with just 3D printing, you have probably not yet been to one. Modern fabrication laboratories offer much more. They are spaces where everyone can create and invent something new. They became popular after demonstrating their benefits for the prosthetics industry, when they dramatically pushed down the costs of leg prosthesis.

Today, FabLabs also offer a more comprehensive support for innovative start-ups. The level of support could recently be elevated through a new network of FabLabs across several central European countries. The network was initiated by the FabLabNet project and now trains young entrepreneurs with fab-lab based products to go a step further with their businesses. Thanks to cooperation, the network’s mentoring and coaching schemes for start-ups are leading to more user-centered design, more balanced service offers and a better use of analytical tools. Rapitag, a start-up company from Germany that produces smart security tags for shops, used the mentoring scheme to further improve the usability of their app and their production processes.

Find out what FabLabs are about and why their new network is central for offering better services.

www.interreg-central.eu/fablabnet

cultural route

FOLLOWING THE ROUTE OF REFORMATION IN CENTRAL EUROPE

Evangelical Church Jawor ©️ ECRR

What connects the Chanforan Monument in Piemonte (IT), the Evangelical Church of Peace in Jawor (PL) and the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach (DE)? It is the new Route of Reformation, which was established  in a transnational cooperation effort.

The three places played an important role in the reformation movement that, during the Middle Ages, represented a revolution in the Christian world. Thanks to the ECRR project partners, all these sites and many more are now part of one cultural route. It offers visitors a journey through the different stages of the reformation process, with unique characteristics in each territories.

The Council of Europe officially certified the new route in April 2019 as “an invitation to travel and to discover the rich and diverse heritage of Europe”. Thanks to this recognition and the founding of the Routes of Reformation Association by the ECRR partnership, the network will stay alive beyond the project end. It will support local tourism and preserve the common history and heritage of these places.

Explore the Routes of Reformation Platform and discover the legacy of reformation in central Europe.

www.interreg-central.eu/ecrr

historic sites

EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING

Dippoldiswalde © VirtualArch

Dippoldiswalde is a small German town near Dresden where a unique network of medieval silver mines was discovered in 2008. The mines have since become part of the UNESCO world heritage nomination of "Ore Mountain Mining Landscape". However, until now it was impossible to visit the mines. They extend over large parts of the city and have to remain filled up and sealed as a matter of public security.

This situation will soon change thanks to cooperation in the VirtualArch project. The transnational partnership digitilises, visualises and reproduces complex structures in 3D multimedia images and films in Dippoldiswalde and many other cultural sites in central Europe.

Experts from tourism, forestry, mining, flood management and agriculture are working together in this complex effort. As a result, regions will soon have new tools to show their hidden heritage to interested tourists and locals in a virtual augmented reality tour.

Watch here how visitors are already using virtual reality tools to explore hidden treasures of the UNESCO world heritage city Hallstatt in Austria.

www.interreg-central.eu/virtualarch

health

BETTER SUPPORT AFTER BREAKING THE BAD NEWS

Patient care ©️ Shutterstock

How a cancer diagnosis is disclosed to patients certainly affects their well-being after this crucial moment in their lives. The reaction of patients often is a combination of anger, despair and fear. There is no easy formula for passing on the message. All that can be said for sure is that it is essential for doctors to stay empathetic, calm and professional. They should be able to take sufficient time to break the bad news and discuss the treatment options.

However, in some central European countries there are pre-defined narrow times for such patient visits. And patient organisations, if they exist at all, often struggle to jump in and support the patients.

In Italy, the situation looks better. Patient organisations are open and enthusiastic about the well-being of patients and have many good practices to offer for their likes in other countries. Cooperation is central to learn from these good practices and to further improve health care beyond borders. It ultimately helps to empower patients and to offer them better services. 

Learn more about how cooperation in our INTENT project ensures a more patient-centric health care approach in this interview with project leader, Mr Marek Svoboda.

www.interreg-central.eu/intent

social innovation

HOW TO START A SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL BUSINESS

Building blocks © SHUTTERSTOCK

What would you do if your daughter got diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder? Where would you seek help and advice if you had to leave your safe job to take care of her?

When Marek was faced with this situation, he found that he had no one to turn to. He still managed somehow. He quit his IT job and became a social entrepreneur. Today, Marek and his company help disadvantaged people in life-changing situations to find a new job or start a business themselves. He also became a source of inspiration in the Social Innovation Academy of the Social(i)Makers project. 

This new academy builds on experiences of people like Marek  from across central Europe. In an open online course it teaches how to become a social start upper. The online forum of the Academy already connects more than 2.500 students that have enrolled from all over the world. They are there to exchange and offer mutual advice on a broad range of social business ideas, such as an association that will help children and their families spend more time together. 

The transnational project is backed by 13 partners located in various central European regions. They are now piloting some of the academy ideas in a real regional market situation. The most successful ones will later be awarded with the 'Be Social, Be Maker' prize of the project.

Learn more about the Social Innovation Academy here and find out why transnational cooperation makes social entrepreneurs more successful.

www.interreg-central.eu/socialimakers

cross-border commuting

CONNECTING WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS


Train © CONNECT2CE

Town twinning started after the Second World War. The idea was simple: to reconcile relationships ruined by war. The coming together of communities helped create a peaceful post-war Europe. But are twin towns still relationship-builders?  

Although Szombathely (HU) and Oberwart (AT) maintain a twin-town relationship and are only 40 kilometres apart, it is nearly impossible to travel from one to the other with public transport. Google maps suggests that it is easier and faster to travel this distance by foot. In a recent debate in Hungarian Parliament, László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation and Technology, pointed out that solutions for improving public transport have already been explored. He quoted CONNECT2CE as a good example. So what did they do?

For example they introduced Microtransit, a transport planner without fixed timetables that focuses on customer needs. Microtransit improved connectivity across the border by significantly reducing transit times between Austrian and Hungarian trains. CONNECT2CE also helped prepare a new scheduled bus service between Szombathely and Oberwart. It will soon start running and bring the neighbours closer together.

Learn more about how to improve regional and cross-border railway and public transport connections by involving micro public transport

www.interreg-central.eu/connect2ce

people

why cooperation is central for slovenes

Conversation © Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE

"Slovenian people want to be Europeans but with our hearts and minds we are central Europeans as well. Central Europe is not just a territory, it is state of mind. "

Nadja Kobe, Member of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Monitoring Committee

Watch the full statement here.

passenger transport

CITIZEN BUSES TO BETTER CONNECT RURAL AREAS

Citizen bus © RUMOBIL

Living in rural parts of central Europe has its perks including fresher air and a quieter life. But there are also problems, especially if you have no car. How do you then get to your job in a nearby city? Or how do you reach a doctor in the next village?

Public transport connections are often weak in rural areas. In Osterburg, the Ministry of Regional Development and Transport in Saxony-Anhalt recently launched a first so-called "citizen bus" to improve the situation. The new bus service is run by volunteers, who are often retired people that want to give back to the community in their spare time.

The service was introduced in February 2018 as a pilot action of our transnational RUMOBIL project. It covers eight different routes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Upon request the service can also be used on weekends, taking local children to clubs and youth camps or sporting tournaments. Other regions across central Europe will be able to learn from the test, which was extended to a second community in May 2018.

In line with the slogan "Our bus for everything that is needed" both communities can now indeed get the most out of living in the countryside in an environmentally friendly way.

Learn more about the new bus service and other transnational activities that better connect our peripheral regions.

www.interreg-central.eu/rumobil

Commuting

These Boots are made for walking

Walking competition prize ©Movecit

Do you also get to work by car and sometimes feel stressed about it? You are not alone: Studies show that only one in six employees like commuting by car, while walking and cycling are enjoyed much more.

To encourage employees to use more sustainable transport modes on short distances, many municipalities in central Europe already promote bike commuting. But what about walking? Until recently, there was no incentive scheme planned or even tested for those who prefer to walk.

This has changed thanks to cooperation in our MOVECIT project. Partners decided to set up a walking campaign: Along the line "Make a positive impact on our environment and your health", they invited municipal employees to participate in a transnational walking competition. It started during the European Mobility Week 2018 and went on for a month. Employees of the Austrian cities Baden, Leoben and Mödling participated and achieved an impressive result: 154 participants walked more than 21.000 kilometres in four weeks. Due to this success, the competition will now take place regularly across Austria. 

Read more about how the three Austrian municipalities literally walked halfway around the world in one month. It's through such small but important steps, that MOVECIT partners are helping to change commuting patterns around central Europe.

www.interreg-central.eu/movecit

cultural heritage

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AS AN INCOME SOURCE FOR THE YOUNG

Pottery ©YouInHerit

Preserving or reviving old trades and crafts is important for tourism and offers economic perspectives to locals. Whether it is the revitalisation of old wine cellars in Hungary, floating mills in Slovenia, breweries in Poland, old boats in Italy or olive groves in Croatia, they are all essential cultural heritage that increases the local attractiveness of a place. And they all have a potential to become an income source for young people.

Nastja from Pomurje in Slovenia is such a young person. The 25-year old likes to travel and explore local handicrafts. Back at home she now plans to turn her hobby into a profession: "I always wanted to design my own plates and other dishes for my kitchen. Pottery is my hobby and I dream to make it the source of some extra money or even make it my future career."

After taking pottery courses to learn the technique from a local teacher and combining it with modern ways that she researched herself she is now getting closer to her aim. She even started to pass on her knowledge of this old trade to other youngsters in a summer school, which was organised for central European students by our YouInHerit project. She knows best how to attract students to pottery and how to motivate them when they are about to give up: "It is all about patience and the uniqueness of your personal piece of work."

Pottery is just one example of how young people can profit from keeping traditional crafts alive. In our YouInHerit project, partners from six central European regions are exploring innovative ways of how to turn traditional handicrafts into income sources for the young.  Watch some of their activities here.

www.interreg-central.eu/youinherit

regeneration

A NEW LIFE FOR BROWNFIELDS IN URBAN AREAS

Until recently, the Silesian town Ruda Śląska in Poland faced problems of environmental degradation and a lack of public green spaces. In the very heart of the city stood a large zinc polluted brownfield, with sharp crags of 2 to 3 meter height. The site exposed contaminated deposit, a real hazard for citizens' health.

In early 2019, a pilot investment by our LUMAT project helped the city to find a solution to these problems: The slope was flattened and the ground surface was covered with clay and clear soil layer. Finally, top of the spoil heap was treated with phytostabilisation.

Selected types of grass are now growing there, which absorb and contain the pollutants in their roots and create a natural barrier between the contaminated soil and the external environment. The former brownfield has now become a public park offering a game field, a view point, walking paths, and a sleigh track that can be safely enjoyed by everyone.

Thanks to cooperation and the exchange of knowledge among the partners, the area could be given back to the Ruda Śląska citizens and now represents the biggest site in Poland where phytostabilisation measures are adopted.

www.interreg-central.eu/lumat

people

Why COOPERATION IS CENTRAL for Slovaks

Quote

"In my opinion, we are now facing times of opportunism and centrifugal tendencies in the European Union and it is time for us to show our citizens that cooperation is very useful. It is critical not only to the European Union as such, but it is also crucial to our regions and macro-regions.

If we want to build a common European identity, we should do it through building regional or macro-regional identities. Such region is also the central Europe region. The cooperation is central, useful for building our European identities.

František Koločány, Slovak Member of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Monitoring Committee

Watch the full statement

mobility

DISCOVER GREENER WAYS TO TRAVEL

Salzburger Verkehrstage © SHAREPLACE

Planning your journey from A to B the greener way sounds good, right? There is only one problem: Most route planning applications only take into account trains and public buses. But what about e-car sharing or bike sharing schemes? Or even funicular railways? 

Partners in our SHAREPLACE project have collected data of mobility options in six central European regions and integrated these into regional mobility platforms. 

Based on your start location and destination, the regional applications will now plan your route by taking into account all possible means of transport. And not only that. Soon you will be able to buy a ticket on a single platform and add interesting sightseeing stops to your journey.

60 users tried out a demo version of these integrated platforms during the "Salzburger Verkehrstage" and they explored the Fuschl-Mondsee region in autonomous buses, by shared cars and bikes and on a ferry. 

Learn more about the SHAREPLACE living labs and how cooperation helped to better integrate diverse mobility services.

www.interreg-central.eu/shareplace

Entrepreneurial skills

HELPING START-UPS TO GET FINANCED

Vegan milk drink © Kannabi

Kannabi is a Slovak start-up that offers a vegan milk alternative without additives, made primarily from canopy seeds, cashew nuts, vanilla, and coconut sugar. On top of great taste, Kannabi promises to boost your immune system, lower your cholesterol, as well as to beat those sugar cravings. With the support of our cooperation project CROWD-FUND-PORT, Kannabi ran a successful campaign on the crowdfunding platform HITHIT.

All in all, the project supports  entrepreneurs in seven central European countries and helps them taking advantage of the crowdfunding phenomena. 

Read the interview with Kannabi founder Marek Benda and find out how they prepared their crowdfunding campaign.

www.interreg-central.eu/crowd-fund-port

historic centres

A new look for old cities

Cultural activity © RESTAURA

The attribute "nowy" (new) in the name of a Polish city, often indicates that the place is very old. Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki is one of those places.

Today, the historic city centre is unfortunately encircled by blocks of unattractive flats that are grey and unsightly memorials of communist times. This reduces the attractiveness of the city, which is not only located beautifully near three rivers but also offers a good connection to the Polish capital, Warsaw. It has all the potential to offer a high quality of life to its residents and could be attractive for those willing to leave the busy capital behind. 

As so often, there is a shortage of money and know-how when it comes to revitalising suburbs in central Europe. Thanks to cooperation with other cities with similar problems and experiences, the urban planners of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki have now been able to take first steps to make the city more attractive by considering citizen’s needs, such as where to spend quality leisure time, shop or send kids to school.

By building on the results of cooperation in our RESTAURA project, the city has initiated revitalisation projects that respect the natural, cultural, and historical values and that offer a modern way of life. Even if facing financial limitations, a lot can be done when public authorities partner up with private investors.

Have a look at what is planned for the city centre and waterfront of Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. Important big investors are already on board for the coming implementation.

www.interreg-central.eu/restaura

E-mobility

ROLLING OUT MODERN E-MOBILITY


Eberswalde is a small town in East Germany that deserves to be known for at least two historic events: In 1923, the world's first ever radio concert was broadcast from here. And in 2012, Europe’s first trolley-battery-hybrid-bus started operating here powered by a modern lithium-ion battery. This marked a major step forward in modern e-mobility thanks to cooperation in our TROLLEY project.

Six years on, Eberswalde will again make history. A feasibility study, which was carried out as part of an EU research project, just confirmed that it will be possible to replace an existing diesel bus line with in-motion-charging trolley-battery-buses - without any extra infrastructure needed to be built.

The new line will be realised by the TROLLEY 2.0 project, which will be funded by ElectroMobility Europe. As of spring 2019, all 12 trolleybuses in Eberswalde will be equipped with a battery that will enable their in-motion charging, extending the trolleybus network by more than 9 km without any new energy infrastructure needed.

Is your city or region interested in upgrading your trolleybus system or in learning about the challenges and opportunities of introducing battery-equipped trolleybuses in your city? Get in touch with the Trolley 2.0 project partners here.

www.trolley-project.eu

People

Why cooperation is central for czechs

Quote

"Cooperation is central for the Czech Republic from a natural point of view. If you look at the map, the Czech Republic is right in the middle of the former Iron Curtain, so for us cooperation on the former east-west divide is crucial. And even though cooperation is taken forward, we still need more of it. Not only across borders but also on a broader scale, as we need to cooperate with partners from Poland, Slovenia, Hungary and Slovakia as well as with German partners. This is crucial for us as the divide that existed is still not gone."

Pavel Lukeš, Member of the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Monitoring Committee

Watch the full statement

Schools

Saving energy together with children

Planet Defender Game © TOGETHER

More than 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first weeks. Why? Because behavioural change is hard. We have to believe that it really matters and only then change will follow. 

Having role models can help to push us towards change. The Province of Treviso  is such a role model: They have taken a leading role in promoting behavioural change for better energy efficiency.

Thanks to knowledge shared with experts from other central European countries in our TOGETHER project, Treviso understood that an isolated, technology-focused approach to energy improvement is not enough. Ultimately, citizen behaviour will be fundamental for realising the change. Awareness and behavioural change have thus become cornerstones of the political Manifesto of Treviso for Energy Efficiency 2.0.

In addition to policy makers, the project focuses on raising awareness among school children. Planet Defenders is an interactive game that takes them home from school. It shows where they can find energy and how they can protect the environment. Play the game here!

www.interreg-central.eu/together

Green Spaces

INVOLVING LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO MANAGE GREEN SPACES

Hegyvidék Park © UGB

Because of its large forests and green spaces, Hegyvidék is said to be the lung of Budapest. Maintaining these areas is a huge challenge for the district in times of scarce resources when traditional approaches are no longer sufficient and efficient.

Luckily, Hegyvidék is not alone with this problem in central Europe. A strong demand exists beyond national borders for new operational models on maintaining urban green spaces. In UGB, a transnational urban green belt project, partners from seven countries have come together to develop new approaches for cities. Their aim is to manage urban green spaces smartly through better cooperation between inhabitants and public authorities.

Hegyvidék has tried out a ‘Green Space Stewardship’ programme. Volunteer stewards were recruited by the Green Office to take care of maintaining green spaces in their neighbourhood. Based on experiences and learnings, the Green Office team is now further improving the programme that already created a thriving partnership between the local community and public authorities. Their successful pilot will allow other regions to profit from an innovative and well-tested tool - straightaway without having to reinvent the wheel.

The project has documented various pilot actions, in which they tested new approaches to better community involvement. Read more here.

www.interreg-central.eu/ugb

Public procurement

THE CREATIVE POTENTIAL OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT 

John Paul II Park Lublin © Park Jana Pawła II

The John Paul II Park in Lublin was built to commemorate the visit of the Catholic Pope in Poland in 1987. The park serves as a green recreational area for citizens with open air sport facilities and an amphitheatre for local dance classes and performances.

30 years later, the amphitheatre is in need of renovation. The local public authority wants to apply innovative solutions to make the lightening more energy-efficient: LED lanterns with motion sensors should reduce energy consumption and collect energy data.

Experiences with launching public procurement for such innovative solutions is still limited in many central European regions, including Lublin. Our project PPI2Innovate is changing this through cooperation and knowledge exchange. The partners develop procurement tools and a comprehensive guide to take municipalities step-by-step through the process - all the way from defining real needs to conducting market consultations and turning the preliminary idea into a detailed description of the investment.

Explore the creative potential of public procurement for innovation and learn more about the new tools and guidelines.

www.interreg-central.eu/ppi2innovate

Industrial culture

THE ARTFUL USE OF INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Martin Hoop IVa coal mining shaft © Inducult2.0

The tower in the picture is the Martin Hoop IVa coal mining shaft in the East German district of Zwickau. The last time black coal was digged up through this shaft dates back to 1978 already. The tower stood abandoned ever since.

Now, 40 years later the giant landmark turned into a piece of art for everyone - thanks to an investment by our Inducult2.0 project. The project brings together central European regions that value their industrial culture. Together they develop their regional identity profiles based on the concept of "living industrial culture", including the redesign of abandoned urban spaces is part.

The new look of the old building was created by Christoph Steyer from nearby Leipzig after he won an international contest. He is a renowned illustrator and designer of urban spaces under the pseudonym "Flamat". With his art, he wants "to make people stop and linger. Either they break for a few seconds from everyday life and find something just nice and funny, or they are irritated."

Read here an article in German about the redesign.

www.interreg-central.eu/inducult2.0

waste HEAT

CUTTING PUBLIC ENERGY BILLS WITH WASTE HEAT 

Fala hydro power plant © CE-HEAT

Many industrial processes generate heat as a byproduct. Unfortunately, this heat is more often wasted than used - despite its huge potential for reducing regional energy consumption.

So why is it not used? Among the main problems are that waste heat cannot travel too far and that technology for transferring it does not come cheap. 

Public and private partners from across central Europe are working together to improve this situation.  They partnered up in our CE-HEAT project and developed a new methodology for better utilizing waste heat. This methodology is now tested in a Slovenian hydro-power plant in Fala, where the immense heat produced by the plant will no longer drift away into the atmosphere. Instead it will warm the nearby Hydroelectric Power Plant Museum and help it to cut energy bills by about 60 percent.

Learn more about how CE-HEAT partners utilize industrial heat waste to make their regions more energy efficient.

www.interreg-central.eu/ce-heat

accessible Museums

MAKING MUSEUMS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL    

Kunsthistorische Museum Vienna © COME-IN!

Museums and their collections are there for everyone to enjoy. Too often reality is different, however: Various barriers may prevent disabled people from accessing them.

Partners in our COME-IN! project embrace the challenge of making our museums more accessible. Cooperation is central for them to remove barriers in museums and to make them more inclusive. Thanks to their new guidelines for museum operators more of us can hopefully soon enjoy more exhibitions across central Europe.  

On European Cooperation Day 2018, COME-IN! presented achievements to policy makers from EU finance ministries. At the fringe of an Austrian EU Presidency meeting, financial attachés could experience the Vienna art history museum as visitors with visual impairments.

Watch our video of the project visit  and learn how central European museums can make cultural heritage barrier-free.

www.interreg-central.eu/come-in

Creative industries

stopping the creative brain drain

Leipzig street © Peter Keller

"Our city has a great quality of life but we are having trouble to find the right people for the job." Alexander Fleischmann, CEO and founder of the design agency KOCMOC in Leipzig, faces a familiar problem for creative companies in middle-sized cities. Skilled workers rather move to near-by capital cities like Berlin and Budapest.

One solution to keep creative people in smaller cities is the establishment of creative clusters. Our project Creative Cities pioneered an action plan for cluster creation already back in 2011. In a cooperative effort, project partners from five countries convinced public authorities in cities such as Pecs, Genova and Leipzig to communicate less formally. They also helped companies to better align their business strategies to official planning. 

As a result, creative jobs are blossoming in these places. Film maker Alina Cyranek met some creative minds in Leipzig after the project end and documented their thoughts in a series of short videos.

ECo-Museums

Knitting a bond between old and young

Woman knitting © FreeImages.com

Mrs Huber, aged 86, has been knitting all her life. She learnt the technique from her mother, who had learnt it from her mother in turn. The knowledge had been passed down from generation to generation.

Today, Mrs Huber is the only person left in the small village in the Styrian Alps who still knows about the local way of knitting. She says that the interest in knitting had been fading for a long time.

Now, however, young men and women have expressed their interest in learning how to knit and cooperation is central to find effective ways to help this and other handicraft traditions survive.

Thanks to CULTURECOVERY project Mrs Huber can pass on her knowledge to the young generation and keep the century-old tradition of knitting alive. Project partners invest in people on site and establish local structures for conveying knowledge and capabilities.

They connect Mrs Huber to the young people of the municipality and re-establish the forgotten bond between old and young, with the goal to preserve the local heritage of knitting for future generations.

www.interreg-central.eu/culturecovery

Entrepreneurial skills

MOTIVATING YOUNG Businesses

Playpark © CERIECON

Can young entrepreneurs boost regional growth and deliver change? Yes, they can! Our CERIecon project helps them to formulate and sell their creative ideas. 
Building on cooperation and mutual exchange, entrepreneurs get new inspirations, training and coaching. They have diverse ideas ranging from application that helps bakery to sell their remaining food to social marketing for small sport clubs. 

Watch the video from their start-up contest to find out more.

www.interreg-central.eu/ceriecon

public spaces

PIONEERING TRANSITION

Socialist pub © RenewTown

Many cities in central Europe are marked by a socialist past. High-rise buildings and abandoned industrial zones are often seen as obstacles to development. But there are creative ways to use this heritage: The Museum of Socialist Curiosities in the Slovak small town of Hnusta attracts visitors from all over the world. The museum and its permanent exhibition are the result of cooperation in our ReNewTown project. Around 100 iconic items were collected with support from the local community. Today, the museum also hosts company team-buildings and school visits.  

By the way, do you know who the pioneers were? Amparo from Chile has the answer because she volunteered in the museum.

industrial Culture

Redefining
Industrial sites

Exhibition in industrial site © Sabrina Weyh

Unused industrial sites can offer exciting new  future places. Every bigger city has them and does not have to look at them as a burden. This was the case for Nuremberg in Bavaria. Thanks to our SECOND CHANCE project, finalised in 2013, an old AEG production hall has been turned into multifunctional space called “Werkstatt 141”. Nowadays the hall hosts concerts, exhibitions and workshops. But even more importantly the revitalised pilot became the forerunner of the big "Kulturwerkstatt auf AEG" project. An investment project run by the City of Nuremberg without our funds that transforms the site completely in the coming years. This small pilot grew into a real lighthouse project of urban redevelopment by building a new cultural identity.

www.keep.eu

Good governance

How to become an eco-citizen

Energy coaching © CitiEnGov

We all use too much energy in our daily lives and personally contribute to global warming. Switching to a more sustainable lifestyle is, however, no rocket science once you know how to. In our CitiEnGov project, partners cooperate to demonstrate simple ways to lower energy consumption. In three cities in Germany, Italy and Hungary they selected 10 households to compete on reducing their carbon footprints. Over several months, energy experts are coaching them in their transition efforts and winners will be announced soon. 

Take a look at what households do in Ludwigsburg for example.

www.interreg-central.eu/citiengov 

"This is Europe"
The Interreg Podcast

 In our new Interreg podcast, broadcaster Shahidha Bari talks to the Europeans whose lives have been transformed by Interreg.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Interreg was created in a spirit of knowledge-sharing
and collaborative thinking both within the EU and beyond to help create a peaceful and prosperous union. 

Across the series you will hear how the Interreg community works with everyone from fishermen to farmers, city planners to entrepreneurs,
forging stronger bonds across borders, tackling long-term issues such as climate change and investing in young Europeans.

We believe #cooperationiscentral for a stronger, more resilient and better Europe.


Listen now


Discover 10 good reasons for transnational cooperation in CENTRAL EUROPE

We develop new ideas by sharing experiences

Delivering resutls

We deliver territorial cohesion: Our  most important results are rooted in shared experiences. We develop new solutions and enhance capacities.

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We help to make better use of Limited Resources

Limited resources

We enable our regions and cities to make better use of their limited resources.                                                     

READ OUR STORY

We solve challenges
beyond borders


challenges across borders

We help regions and cities to jointly work on challenges that go beyond borders.                                                       


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We help regions to offer better services for all

Improving services

We help public authorities to offer better services for citizens and companies.                     

                          

READ OUR STORY

We deliver attractive results
for cities


Attracting cities

Through working closely together, our projects deliver visible results for cities and regions across central Europe.


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We trigger big investments
into our future


triggering investments

We are an innovative catalyst that triggers further public and private investment and accelerates urban and regional development.

READ OUR STORY

We help improve policy making in regions and cities

creating change

We improve policy making and initiate
change in regions and cities. We therefore have a long-term impact.                  

READ OUR STORY