Circular economy and sustainability – a driving force for BSR development

Representatives from project “GoSmart BSR” were attending 10th annual forum of the European Union Strategy of the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in Gdansk on June 12-13, where about 800 participants from governments, international organisations, NGOs, universities, local and regional administrations and businesses gathered.

Ralfs Nemiro, Minister of Economics of Latvia

The main task of project “GoSmart BSR” was:

  1. To gather information about trends and topicalities in Baltic Sea Region (BSR) that can influence further development of the project;
  2. To meet and network with the representatives of various organisations, public authorities and other Interreg project teams to share the experience and solutions to challenges of project implementation, for example, to continue further development of project idea after the end of project;
  3. Dissemination of already implemented and planned activities.

The focus of the event was on circular and shared economy, which can become the driving force for businesses in the coming years. Although circular economy has become almost a buzzword, only 2 countries of Baltic Sea Region – Germany and Finland – have developed a strategy for circular economy so far, as reported by Adam Czerniak, Chief Economist and Director for Research at Polityka Insight (Poland).

Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Commissioner, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) pointed out: “People often think that moving to a circular economy is a policy’s choice. But reality today is that this is inevitable. We face global competition for resources, we need to secure our supplies. By 2050 we need to completely reform our economy. It will not be easy. None of us in Europe can do it alone – not a single member state, not a single region. We need to work in very close partnerships, and Baltic Sea Strategy is a very good example of this.”

One way how to implement close partnerships in the field of innovation and internationalisation within BSR is a development of common smart specialisation strategy. Thus forum was a great opportunity for “GoSmart BSR” project to promote our policy paper “Methodology for Transnational Smart Specialisation Strategy” to the related organisations as well as Joint Secretariat of Interreg BSR.  Since “GoSmart BSR” project will be a part of newly approved project platform in the Baltic Sea Region, and EUSBSR is an initiator of this platform, representatives from project team met the Policy Area “Innovation” Coordinator to discuss cooperation options and possibilities for joint events.

“There is a definite need for the development of a single BSR innovation ecosystem integrating all regions and cities for smarter growth. Role of cooperation, sharing and knowledge transfer across the BSR is rapidly increasing. And we as the region should be part of this ecosystem,” said Laila Gercāne, representative of “GoSmart BSR” Steering Committee and Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia).

Project Expert and Innovation Broker from Latvia, Ilona Platonova, was also a speaker at one of the seminars at the forum, where she introduced Transnational Innovation Brokerage System (TIBS), highlighting the innovation perspective in lifelong learning for SMEs.

The aim of the seminar was to raise awareness of flexible lifelong learning as a way for SMEs to adapt to change in order to facilitate the transition to sustainable business models in BSR countries.

“According to OECD report, there is an evidence that SMEs have higher skill deficiencies than larger companies, holding them back from digitalisation and fragmentation of production processes,” Ilona highlighted as one of the challenges. The need for adaptation for SMEs is increasing with the diversification of customer needs, therefore learning ability is crucial for the renewal of business models and the introduction of innovations in SMEs.

These were two days of inspiration, networking and planning for a better and sustainable future of the Baltic Sea Region and beyond. Thank you, Pomorskie Region, Baltic Sea States Subregional Co-operation (BSSSC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, European Commission and other partners involved in this successful event.

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