With already 30 projects at work, how far has Interreg NPA progressed?

After 4 calls, the programme is now supporting 14 main projects and 16 preparatory projects. In this article we share a brief state of the art and some thoughts looking ahead.

The Interreg NPA 2021-2027 programme goal is to enable communities in the Northern Periphery and Arctic to work together transnationally, to find sustainable solutions to shared challenges and opportunities.

To do so it has selected three priority areas where transnational cooperation can be an efficient tool:

  1. Innovation capacity
  2. Climate change and resource sufficiency
  3. Cooperation opportunities

Through the funding of projects in each of these areas, the programme can have a positive impact for a wide range of people and organisations across the area.

Where are we standing

So far, the programme ran two calls for main projects resulting in:

  • 7 main projects working in Priority 1: Innovation capacity
  • 6 main projects working in Priority 2: Climate change and resource sufficiency
  • 1 capacity building project working in Priority 3: Cooperation opportunities

Zooming in on the specific themes addressed by the projects, there is a major interest in supporting sustainable growth & competitiveness of SMEs. There are in fact 5 projects working on this topic, yet each focusing on a different aspect, highlighting the variety of opportunities in the area. Three projects operate in the tourism industry:

  • GLOW 2.0 will offer a Green Business Model to SMEs and social enterprises serving the Dark Nights Tourism Economy;
  • N-Lite delivers new innovative digital solutions and immersive digital experiences to promote place-based literary tourism; and
  • SUB develops entrepreneurial skills and sustainable business models for micro and SMEs in the biking tourism industry.

The two other projects look at solutions for improving opportunities for businesses to thrive. Target Circular aims at supporting companies in becoming more successful when adopting a sustainable business model. Whereas MERSE wants to create better opportunities for people to start rural social enterprises and community services.

The second-most attractive theme is that of resource efficiency and circular economy. Three projects are currently running:

  • Ar2Cord is leading to lower a carbon footprint of concrete, with the use of locally available supplementary cementitious materials;
  • ENFORCE plans to reduce the environmental footprint of wastewater treatment provisions and increase the use of circular economy options;
  • Circnets continues the work of its predecessors, working on the collection, treatment, and reuse of end-of-life fishing gear.

Each of the remaining themes such as energy efficiency or digitisation, is addressed by either one or two projects each.

Click here for a complete overview of approved main projects.

Where are we heading

Preparatory projects are meant to explore and prepare the ground for main projects. Currently there are 16 such projects divided as follows:

  • 5 preparatory projects working in Priority 1: Innovation capacity
  • 11 preparatory projects working in Priority 2: Climate change and resource sufficiency

A look at both types of projects funded so far, main and preparatory, confirms the leading interest in the topics of business sustainability and circular economy. Whereas the areas of digitisation, climate change adaptation, and energy efficiency could be further explored.

Click here for a complete overview of approved Preparatory projects per specific objective.

After the assessment of 3rd call project proposals, the programme will run a thematic gap analysis to be presented at the Monitoring Committee during its meeting on 27th September 2023. Based on this analysis, the MC will decide if the 4th call for proposals should welcome applications in all specific objectives, or only in those that need to attract further projects.

What about Priority 3: Cooperation opportunities?

Currently there is only one project supported under this topic: ARCTIC STEM COMMUNITIES. This is a project addressing the need for skill-building and adaptation to face changing climate and societies through increasing the uptake of STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) among female students.

The purpose of projects funded in this priority is to build capacity for cooperation between organisations across the NPA area. Building solid networks and partnerships that will last and that will have an impact on the area.

During the 3rd call the programme listed a number of topics that could be addressed by Priority 3 projects. These can be found on the call page for orientation.

Even further in the future…

Probably at the earliest in late 2024 or early 2025, the programme is planning to open a call for small-scale clustering projects, with the aim to capitalise on the results of main projects funded in the Interreg NPA and the Interreg Aurora programmes. Stay tuned!