3 mins

Taking transnational cooperation forward in central Europe

Anna Sirrocco

The ESPON CE-FLOWS targeted analysis is currently investigating the spatial dynamics of and integrated territorial development scenarios for central Europe. An intermediate finding of the experts is that central Europe is a highly integrated functional area, in which cooperation is central to developing and implementing relevant strategic actions beyond borders. Transnational funding from Interreg Central Europe enables such cooperation, bringing people together to find solutions to common challenges that do not stop at national borders.

Our project partnerships foster relationships of trust and often become the fertile ground for further cooperation beyond borders. In many cases, including those presented below, cooperation outlasts the Interreg Central Europe funding.

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The Ketgate network

Turning a creative idea into a product often requires studies or tests for which smaller businesses lack the in-house capacity. External research and technology organisations can offer the necessary technology or facilities, but this comes with another challenge: it is often the case that the right partner is based in a different country. Many SMEs struggle with getting in touch with such organisations in other countries, or even knowing about them.

The newly created Ketgate network provides a solution to this problem. It offers the missing link bet ween SMEs and providers of the key enabling technologies (KETs) that they need to take their innovations forward.

The network was created by the Ketgate project (2017?2020), which established Ketgate access points in all partner countries. Here, experts offer advice to SMEs to on finding research and technology organisations, often located abroad, that can help them with KETs. Having built a model network and tested the matchmaking of SMEs and KET providers as part of the project, the partners will keep this service running to increase the innovation capacity of central European regions.

Routes of Reformation

The Routes of Reformation are the result of transnational cooperation under the European Cultural Route of Reformation (ECRR) project (2016?2019). The aim was to spotlight all those places around central Europe that played an important role in the Reformation movement, which gave rise to a revolution in the Christian world during the 16th century. Thanks to the ECRR, more than 80 sites are now part of a single cultural route,reflecting an important part of the common history of the area.

In April 2019, the Council of Europe officially certified the new route as it 'offers the chance to affirm the values of solidarity, hospitality, intercultural dialogue, and cooperation by fostering learning, discourse, and shared projects among the members and the visitors along the Route?. Thanks to this recognition and the founding of the Routes of Reformation Association by the ECRR partnership, the network continued to work together after the project's end. This new non-profit association is responsible for the governance of the route. It not only takes care of valorising the common history and heritage of the selected sites but also welcomes and evaluates applications from potential new members to join, thus enriching the route with more and more points of interest.

The COME-IN! label

The COME-IN project (2016?2019) embraced the challenge of helping museums in central Europe to make culture more accessible to people with different kinds of disability. After developing and successfully testing a new set of guidelines on making exhibitions inclusive, they created the COME-IN! label, to be used by museums that comply with a set of standards carefully drawn up by the project partnership.

As a way of expanding the community of museums committed to inclusivity, the former COME-IN! partners plan yearly calls to award the label to museums who believe in making cultural heritage truly accessible to all. The first call for applications was opened in the summer of 2020. A transnational selection committee composed of eight former project partners is responsible for assessing the candidate museums and awarding the label to those that meet the standards and values of the COME-IN! label. The committee is also in charge of monitoring the continuous commitment of awarded museums to label standards.

First evaluations show that early adopters of the label have benefited from the reduced barriers to access. For example, the Archaeological Museum in Pula, Croatia, staged the exhibition 'Prehistory in our hands' ('Prapovijest u rukama') and won an award for the best exhibition of 2018 in Croatia. The museum's efforts to make archaeological content more accessible to people with disabilities have won a great deal of recognition from the local authorities.

This article appears in A regional geography of COVID-19

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