In 2018 Euroregion Baltic started the implementation of the South Baltic UMBRELLA project which aims at developing know-how capacities for small local and regional organisations in the South Baltic Programme area to initiate their active participation in the cross-border cooperation in their daily activities.
Its principal activities focused or raising awareness of local actors on the possibilities offered by cross-border cooperation, micro-activities and direct expert support in writing project applications for South Baltic Programme.
2018 was spent setting the basis for an efficient capacity-building process that unfolded in 2019 with cross-border events accompanied by local-based initiatives, mapping of stakeholders, communication and scouting campaigns, besides the production of valuable teaching material. Umbrella’s partnership evolved into a well-structured, motivated and energetic team. Umbrella- Boosting cross-border cooperation capacities of local actors in the South Baltic Sea- became an ambitious attempt to provide professional consultancy on EU funding and cooperation opportunities in the South Baltic Sea Region. Through the South Baltic Programme support, it was possible to finance numerous initiatives creating a future easily replicable package. On a practical organizational side, Umbrella built a Pool of Experts who could cover several EU and non-EU funding programmes in the Baltic Sea Region. Support to local organizations (small municipalities, NGOs, institutions, local activists, etc.) was provided through the actions described below.
5th-7th February 2019 – Cross-Border Workshop in Lund (SE) co-organized by the Association of Polish Communes of Euroregion Baltic (PL), Region Kalmar County and Skåne Association of Local Authorities as cross-project action. The scope was to create continuity with the SB-PIN project (South Baltic- Public Innovators Network), in its final phase. SB-PIN had laid the basis for several workshops and discussions covering the topics of Blue Growth, Green Growth and Inclusive Cities. Umbrella’s team participated in SB-PIN final conference providing expertise and a pragmatic approach through a workshop on EU funding opportunities- from the local to the international level- search of calls of proposals, and project ideation. This was a first test to decide on topics not to be missed when approaching a cross-border cooperation network.
24th-25th April 2019- Cross-border conference with EUSBSR Policy Area SMART SPECIALIZATION panel. After the success of the first Conference with PA panel on Bioeconomy held in Kalmar (SE) in September 2018, Umbrella and Euroregion Baltic participated in the co-organization of this experts meeting “International Value Chains as a goal for regional Smart Specialisations”.
9th MAY- on Europe Day, a second Awareness Raising Event was held in Sorø, organized by PP Guldborgsund Municipality as an informative event on EU opportunities for municipalities and educational institutions. The intention was to show different cooperation opportunities both at local, regional and international level and saw the participation of Greater Copenhagen EU Office. Danish municipalities’ own experience with EU funds was also illustrated. A micro-activity on Culture was held as back to back event.
MAY-AUGUST- during the summer all the efforts were devolved to the cooperation with the consultancy company Whitecom Project Experience sp. zoo (based in Warsaw), that won a public tender for the preparation of a project training and coaching pack. Umbrella’s team set the basis of choosing a set of topics that have been organized in educational and self-learning contents on project management. Thanks to the constant work between Whitecom, Pomorskie in the EU association and LP, the output resulted in high-value material covering both generic notions on project management and tailor-made sections with a focus on the Baltic Sea Region. The training and coaching pack has been delivered in two project management manuals: for beneficiaries of the Umbrella project and trainers. The purpose of this package is to support people and groups with great ideas that could contribute to the sustainable development of the South Baltic Region.
Through the manual, knowledge about project management, paperwork and requirements associated with successfully acquiring the funding for projects are conveyed. A trainers book came as a supplement for the beneficiary manual and presents the contents of the package from the perspective of the instructor conducting training courses to individuals who would like to acquire, understand and use the knowledge included in the package. Guidelines on the right teaching process, key learning points, explanations of the course flow and logic were put together with additional resources. The final scope of the training and coaching pack is: to provide basic knowledge and ability to use essential tools and techniques of project management- and other disciplines- that could be used in relation with projects; to increase the confidence and skills of beneficiaries in the process of preparation of a successful project proposal as part of an application for financial support from the financing programme.
During this experience, we realized how important is communication. Therefore, the Association of Polish Communes of Euroregion Baltic as LP invested some finances in renovating the ERB website. It has the potential to serve as the basis for the capacity-building platform on a broader regional level. Meanwhile, for the project purpose, a Moodle platform has been established and organized in “courses” where training material for self-learning is available for free for all (subscription needed).
COMMUNICATION – Umbrella invested a lot of efforts in communication and dissemination through the social media campaigns: Know us better!; Did you know?; ERB history; Know ERB member regions both on ERB and Umbrella website. We also organized a workshop during the SBP ANNUAL EVENT IN OSTRÓDA on 24th-25th SEPTEMBER 2019 attended by more than 50 people.
On 2nd OCTOBER 2019, a TRAINING OF TRAINERS was held by Whitecom Project Experience with the purpose of training Project Partners and other pre-selected experts in anticipation of the National training. The training was organized as a practical workshop on teaching tools and teaching practices.
25th OCTOBER – a Cross-border conference with EUSBSR Policy Area ENERGY panel was organized by PP2 Baltic Institute for Regional Affairs BISER together with UMBRELLA Interreg South Baltic and project partners. The main objective of this conference was to provide beneficiaries with relevant information concerning the on-going discussion on Energy topics in the South Baltic Sea, Energy & electromobility objectives in the EU Baltic Sea Strategy and Umbrella’s opportunities for the preparation of future project applications in the Interreg South Baltic Programme. Being the conference co-organized with the EUSBSR PA ENERGY Coordinator, participants met with experts in the frame of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. A specialised „Microactivity” aiming experts related to the electromobility was also organized as a back-to-back event. During the micro-activity electromobility projects in the Pomorskie region were presented, besides the Mevo- Metropolitan e-Bike Sharing System and EUSBSR Seed money calls possibilities.
NOVEMBER – The “Report With Assessment Of Needs And Potential Project Themes And Project Barriers” was delivered by HI-ERO – Hanseatic Institute for Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, external expert in charge of mapping Umbrella’s stakeholders Within the scope of this study, almost 90 organisations from five European countries have been interviewed with regards to their knowledge and experience about EU-funded projects and, in particular, the obstacles that hinder organisations from participating in EU-funded projects. This survey has brought to light specific trends and results that can have an impact on the improvement of EU-funded projects. The Mapping Stakeholders was foreseen to present a general picture of organisations in the regions covered by the UMBRELLA project qualified as potential beneficiaries of the South Baltic Programme.
APPLICATIONS SUPPORTED THROUGH RENT AN EXPERT SO FAR
1. Cross-roads in the South Baltic Sea- Interreg South Baltic- granted.
2. Implementation of new solutions – as an effect of international cooperation – in a field of improvement of the functioning of local government units in the area of public services availability for people with specific needs. Polish POW ER Programme (transnational component), not granted.
3. Bullhead- Interreg South Baltic- granted. This project was ideated and formulated thanks to the organization of a micro activity and then supported by an expert from Umbrella’s pool in January 2019.
- 21.10.2019- Kristianstad (SE)
- 28.10.2019- Chojnice (PL)
- 22.11.2019- Telsiai (LT)
- 28.11.2019- Gdansk (PL)
- 05.12.2019- Kalmar (SE)
- 10.12.2019- Klaipeda (LT)
- 10.01.2019- Alvesta (SE)
- 24.01.2020- Elblag (PL)
- 28.01.2020- Nida (LT)
National trainings in Denmark will be held in February 2020.
Between October 2019 and January 2020, 9 National trainings based on Umbrella’s training and coaching pack have been held in national languages to reduce the language barriers that sometimes emerge when using English as non-native speakers.
“MEET YOUR NEIGHBOURS” MICRO-ACTIVITIES- they are intended as meetings, and study visits where Umbrella’s stakeholders are supported while knowing each other and establishing new networks of cooperation. Project Partners have organized several micro-activities (some can be found in the text above):
DK- Guldborgsund 11th-14th November 2019 on Rural Development. The study trip aimed to exchange experiences, learn from good examples and discuss possible joint projects and cooperation in the future. Stakeholders came from Region Kalmar County, Sweden.
LT- Study visit in Klaipeda,4th-6th December 2019- “Towards international collaboration: Culture and Arts”. The main aim was to bring together organizations active in the field of culture and arts, and promote mutual international collaboration opportunities with support tools of UMBRELLA project. PL- Youth Group Exchanges organized as back to back in the Connect Europe project event on Solidarity in the ECS (Gdansk) on 2nd-4th December 2019. A project application on Youth Exchange in the South Baltic Sea region is being supported through Rent-an-expert service.