The EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region (EU BSR Strategy) is a so-called macro strategy decided by the European Council. It is the EU's first macro strategy and the goal is to develop the whole region around the Baltic Sea to a globally leading region in different ways. With the region's approximately 100 million inhabitants, the region is a player of quite a different rank than what the countries around the Baltic Sea can achieve on their own.
There are four main pillars in the EU BSR Strategy.
- To make the BSR an Environmentally Sustainable Place
Baltic vulnerability to overfertilization, pollution and overfishing, puts particularly high requirements on the application of the EU regulations and on the cooperation within the region in this area.
- To make the region a Prosperous Place
By better coordinating research and innovation as well as the application of EU legislation in the region, the region will strengthen its competitiveness and its prosperity.
- To make the region an Accessible and Attractive Place
Large parts of the region are sparsely populated with large distances to other markets. Transport systems and energy markets are not yet sufficiently interlinked to take best advantage of the region's potential for competitiveness and quality of life. A more systematic cooperation is required for improving the transport systems and energy supply in the region.
- To make the region a Safe and Secure Place
Through increased cooperation within the region, Member States could improve cooperation on the surveillance of shipping, public health and crisis management, as well as security of financial activities.
Strategy and the structural fund programmes
The structural funds programmes are an important source of funding for projects that want to contribute to the implementation of the strategy and the action plan. This applies to both the national structural funds and the transnational and cross border funds.
VINNOVA's responsibility within pillar 2 - Prosperity
Within pillar two "prosperity", VINNOVA has the Government's assignment to contribute in the priority area named "to exploit the region's full potential in research and innovation". To achieve this objective, it has decided of an action plan containing concrete measures in the form of flagship projects. Coordination of activities in priority area 7 is coordinated by Poland, together with the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications in Sweden and VINNOVA.
One of the flagships - BSR Stars, focuses on developing a programme for the macro-region in innovation, clusters and SME networks. The programme is managed by Lithuania and Sweden. VINNOVA has been commissioned by the Swedish government to manage the flagship from the Swedish side. VINNOVA will, together with the Ministry of Economy in Lithuania and other public actors from the countries around the Baltic Sea, as well as Norway and Iceland, build networks of innovative cluster in certain prioritised areas. The programme is lead by a high-level group from the involved countries where ministries and their authorities (or equivalent) have a position.
The Flagship programme, is named BSR Stars in order to indicate the ambitions that are behind the program. BSR Stars aims to strengthen the competitiveness and economic growth in the Baltic Sea region through promoting cross-border links between specialised research and innovation hubs, which leads to strategic innovation alliances. Through close cooperation with governmental organizations in 10 countries the BSR Stars is a unique joint innovation programme.
The programme's strategic mission is to build on existing commercial strengths and competences in countries around the Baltic Sea, strengthening cross-border network of companies and research actors and promote the development of new innovation projects. BSR Stars is dedicated to find smart solutions with scientific methods on common challenges in areas such as:
- sustainable transport and
- digital affairs and services.
The ultimate aim of BSR Stars is to promote sustainable growth and prosperity throughout the macro region. In the EU BSR strategy, it is decided that existing resources will be used to implement the strategy. Thus BSR Stars have been granted funding from the structural funds programme for the Baltic Sea Region.
The innovation project StarDust is a part of the BSR Stars programme with a total budget of 6,5 million euros. The goal of StarDust is to contribute to a globally competitive position within five areas and create a platform for the building up of BSR Stars to be the engine to exploit the entire region’s full potential in research and innovation. Of the total funding, 3,1 million euro are directly focused on the five transnational pilots. They include innovative developments in the fields of:
- cleantech & future energy,
- wellness & health,
- future transport and
- digital business & services.
The remaining resources will be used to create an innovative infrastructure.
VINNOVA is lead partner and coordinator of StarDust.