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Smart Regions

Smart Regions, in collaboration with Euronews, takes a tour of Europe, visiting the cities and towns where Cohesion Policy projects are reducing regional disparities and bringing real, tangible benefits to communities across the EU.

The Saint Marina University Hospital in Varna (Bulgaria) is at the heart of a European project for personalised medicine. The 1,300-bed university hospital is modernising its infrastructure to become a centre of competence and hi-tech research within 5 years. The transformation has already begun with, among other things, the arrival of surgical assistance robots in December 2019.

Aveiro, located in Portugal’s Centro region, is a living technology hub thanks to the Aveiro Steam City project. The city suffers from brain drain and needs to help local firms to rethink the resources they need to innovate and grow, with creative roles equipped with the necessary digital competences. This EU cohesion policy project helps tackling these challenges by focusing on a stronger education offer to produce a new range of talents – including artistic, creative and human sciences areas – with a STEAM approach (adding the “A” for Arts and creativity to the domains of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Moreover, the city is a trial city for 5G technologies, using it as the basis for the transition into a next economy based on knowledge and digital platforms, valorising RD&I, open data and the development of new products and services for the growth and creation of new companies and jobs.

Schools are becoming greener in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro thanks to EU cohesion policy’s support. The latest episode of Smart Regions focused on the Smart Schools project, a cross-border scheme which aims to reduce pollution and promote renewable energies. A total of seven Bosnian and Croatian schools and colleges have renovated their buildings to make them more energy efficient. Smart Schools' total budget is €1.6 million, 85% of which is financed by the European Cohesion Policy. The awareness-promoting initiative has reached 105 schools and 29,000 pupils.

The Cyclades islands in Greece have dropped diesel electricity generators for direct connection to the cleaner and safer electricity grid of mainland Greece. It’s a multi-million euros project, supported by EU cohesion policy, that will benefit the environment and the touristic sector.

CoNVat is an EU project that is about direct, fast and specific identification of coronavirus to improve its early diagnosis and the clinical management of patients. The approach employs an already developed technology based on nanophotonic bimodal waveguide (BiMW) interferometers capable of providing real time, highly sensitive detections assays in short sample turnaround times. Final prototype validation will demonstrate the potential of this approach for the management of future infectious outbreaks.

This episode of the Smart Regions series in partnership with Euronews will focus on “I-STORMS”, a EU cohesion policy project working on integrated sea storm management strategies. The project intends to enhance transnational cooperation sharing knowledge, data & forecasts through a common infrastructure, joint strategies to deal with sea storm emergencies primarily on the Adriatic-Ionian coastal areas.

This area has a lot of technical expertise, also production expertise but it doesn't use a lot of sustainable products. It needs to catch up with Western European standards and that’s what the EU-supported project “BioComPack-CE” is about: raising awareness and trialling the biodegradable plastic and paper combination packaging.

The Interreg project has partners in Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia and Poland.

The Alpine Space programme is a European transnational cooperation programme for the Alpine region. It facilitates the cooperation between economic, social and environmental key players in seven Alpine countries, as well as between various institutional levels such as: academia, administration, business and innovation sector, and policy making.
European Atlas, one of about 60 projects supported by Alpine Space, has produced a database on the historical buildings that can be restored and provides a guide to technical solutions and good practices, which are valuable for architects.

DISARM is a European cross-border system designed to give better advance warning and information about wildfires. This project is part of Interreg Balkan Mediterranean. It has been funded by EU cohesion policy and involves partners from Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

‘MisMi’ is an Interreg France-Italy ‘Alcotra’ project financed by EU cohesion policy, which supports people living in mountain, rural and dispersedly populated areas between Valle d’Aosta region in Italy and Tarentaise in France. The project is about linking people in need with caregivers and the community using technology, thus contributing to fight people’s isolation and social and health inequalities. This project is even more valuable in the current context of COVID-19 spread as citizens can benefit from tele-medicine and two nurses who are helping on the ground in hospitals and patients’ home.

Strengthening the epidemiological and virological surveillance of COVID-19 will be key to defeating the disease.In addition to bringing together case data from hospitals and other primary care clinics, the project will also study the effectiveness of any future vaccines or treatments for the virus. The goal is to obtain as much information as possible about COVID-19, and to make sure the same methodology is practised among the partners and participating countries. The first step takes place in clinics or doctors surgeries where a case might be diagnosed.

The project "Biobase Europe" was realised through the Interreg “Vlaanderen Nederland” programme. The project has achieved a significant reinforcement of the border region as a European region in the bio-based economy — an economy based on organic and renewable raw materials.
The project invested among others in the pilot factory for bio-based products and processes. Domestic and foreign businesses can access the factory for the upscaling of their new process or product from laboratory to semi-industrial scale. The pilot plant will serve as a ‘one-stop shop’ where the whole process can go through the entire process, from biomass to the pure refined product.

“The Good Support Program” is a EU cohesion policy project in Poland which develops remote management of care services. At time of COVID-19, this project beneficiary has decided to provide their innovative IT tool for free for the duration of the crisis, to help other European communities fighting the coronavirus emergency. The value of this project was already awarded by the European Commission with the title of RegioStars 2019 for the most innovative IT tool in social services.

Natural disasters know no borders. The added value of cooperation beyond borders is especially evident in the field of environmental risk prevention. ReNovRisk-Cyclones is an EU Interreg Indian Ocean Area project specifically interested in the meteorological and oceanographic impact of tropical cyclones on the territories of the southwest of the Indian Ocean. It is divided into two parts dealing respectively with: observing and modelling cyclones and estimating their impact within the context of a changing climate: Cyclones and Climate Change; and observing, studying and forecasting cyclonic rainfall in the south-west Indian Ocean, from Réunion to the Mozambique Channel. These activities should make it possible to improve and adapt existing cyclone forecasting tools to an insular context and help develop territorial cooperation on cyclone risk in the west Indian Ocean.

Carnivora Dinarica is an Interreg Croatia-Slovenia project with the aim to improve conservation status of large carnivores, and especially lynx, wolf, and bear in the unique landscape of continuous transboundary forests in Central Europe. Here around 20 lynx, 50 wolves and 600 bears live and their long-term conservation is vital for preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in the Slovenian-Croatian cross-border area.

Every year, Europeans produce 88 million tons of food waste, which corresponds to 173kg per person. The Franco-Belgian Interreg project TeraFood is trying to find a solution to this problem by developing a compact and low-cost sensor for the monitoring of the quality of packaged food. The aim is to allow for extended shelf lives and to reduce food waste. The project consortium consists of both industrial and academic partners with the necessary expertise to produce the sensor. Watch the latest Smart Regions episode to find out more about this smart & innovative project.

What to do with grape waste? Can it be turned from trash into a resource, from litter into cosmetics or health products? A smart project involving Italy, France, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia - under the European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-Border Cooperation Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme - is working to make it happen. The idea behind the project BestMedGrape is to exploit the innovation potential of the Mediterranean traditional crop to transform it into a commercial product, generating business and employment opportunities as well as reducing the environmental pollution produced by the bulky waste of wine making.

The episode focused on the Interreg Europe “Devise” project which supports 9 European regions to unlock the potential of digital tech SMEs. This project is part of these regions’ smart specialisation strategy, which is a place-based approach to boost the specific region’s strengths and entrepreneurial potential.

Agriculture is very important in both Spain and Portugal. This European project is helping to bring new life to the degraded landscape at the border between these two countries. It aims to transform and reinvigorate the soil with organic compost and man-made "technosols". It’s part of a joint project called Res2ValHUM involving three Portuguese cities - Braga, Guimarães and Porto - and four in Galicia: Santiago de Compostela, Ourense, Touro and A Coruña. The project has seven partners in total: two university laboratories and five companies, which specialise in technosols or organic compost production.

Polish scientists joined forces to create a new medical material called “FlexiOss”, which can be used as artificial bone. This groundbreaking technology reduces the risk of rejection from the body and, by adapting more easily to the required shapes, it helps fix bone fractures and leads to a faster physical recovery. The project has received a EU grant of €1 million and it has won 14 awards.

RegioStars Awards 2019 finalist "R-Sol-E" project proves local authorities can act as leaders in environment preservation and clean energy production. Three local authorities from Croatia and Serbia joined forces to demonstrate that energy efficiency can be achieved through usage of renewable energy across borders. The project enabled partners to install 6 solar power plants, 100 solar public lighting poles and a station for charging electric cars. 

More information about the project

An original Interreg project between Estonia and Latvia is developing prototypes to make education more attractive and pleasant for kids. Find out how EU Cohesion policy is helping schools in Estonia and Latvia becoming more advanced & effective learning environments.

Megalo Papigo, in the Zagori region of northern Greece's Pindos Mountains, is now connected to the digital world with broadband internet access, along with 5,000 other villages in remote areas of the country. Bringing internet connection to Greek rural areas is changing people’s lives.

"Antea" project aims to support the emergent sector of comestible flowers in the Italian-French cross-border area.
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The new ‘Smart Regions’ series with Euronews kicked started on Monday 21 October with an episode on “Benur”, the first electric bike without wheelchair transfer, accessible directly without the help of a third party. Thanks to Benur and with the support of EU Cohesion Policy, people with reduced mobility can now take full advantage of ViaRhôna, a bike route between Lake Geneva and the Mediterranean Sea.

After years of solitude, Mont-Saint Michel lives again with new emphasis placed upon the area’s architectural heritage and natural environment. Increased biodiversity, a focus on high-quality tourism and sustainable economic development are the priorities of this enormous project.
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Can you imagine to protect and save one of the most polluting seas in the world by farming blue mussels? Well, this is what this Interreg Baltic Sea Region project is all about: to fight "eutrophication" which is the impact of chemical nutrients on the ecosystems by farming and harvesting blue mussels in the Baltic Sea. What's more is that this will not only reduce eutrophication, but it is also expected to become a business model for the feed industry and to be used in symbiosis with fish farms.

A new chapter has opened in Budapest’s public transport: the Hungarian capital joined the club of cities that offer public bike-sharing. By improving the conditions of cycling, this project aims to achieve that more and more passengers would opt for cycling as their travel alternative to reach their destinations within a short distance in Budapest. Thanks to a support of over €2.2 million from EU Cohesion Policy, the stations are equipped with video surveillance camera systems and a computer terminal that performs the identification of the users and it provides live information about the number of bikes and docking stations available at each service point. Moreover, a total of 99 docking stations with 2,159 docking points and a fleet of 1,150 bicycles are now at the disposal of users in 11 districts of Budapest. Cycling is free-of-charge for a 30 minute period in possession of a valid ticket or pass. This system was developed after carefully analysing previous success stories Europe-wise on such bike sharing projects (notably London, Brussels and Paris). The number of users since the start is well above 100,000 (altogether more than 1.5 million individual journeys were made totaling to 3 million kilometers). Watch the episode and find out more.
More information about the project

The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, flowing through 10 countries. In this Smart Regions episode we will discover the DANUBEPARKS network, an organisation that protects areas around the ten countries crossed by the river. With a budget of 3 million euros, of which 2.6 million euros covered by the EU's Cohesion Policy, the DANUBEPARKS network works to preserve the basin of the 2885km river, 5000 animal species and 2000 plants living along its shores.

Discover how one of the most dangerous road sections in Greece has turned to be one of the safest highways in the country. The construction of the three new tunnels between Thessaloniki and Athens, the so-called Tempi Tunnels, included 25 km of motorway, 11 km of tunnels and the largest road tunnel in south-east Europe. The project is part of the five motorway concessions which constructed and upgraded approximately 1400 km of roads in Greece with the support of EU Cohesion Policy. The Tempi tunnels have halved the travel time on the new sections and reduced the drive from Athens to Thessaloniki to just over four hours. Road safety has dramatically improved with accidents reduced by up to 70%. The Tempi Valley has also benefited from the project’s environmental protection measures.
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In this Smart Regions episode we explore the innovative 3D spinal implants produced by the Polish company LfC and which have already helped dozens of people to live a normal life. Until 2017, nearly 70 thousand surgical operations have been performed using LfC implants in countries such as Poland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Israel, the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

“United we stand, divided we fall”: the ‘6AIKA - Open and Smart Services’ project is indeed all about getting stronger together. Six largest cities in Finland, namely Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Oulu, Tampere and Turku, have decided to join forces to test pilot and innovative solutions to common urban challenges. Watch the Smart Regions episode to find out about some concrete and original solutions that these cities are already successfully implementing.
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Based in Gothenburg’s Biskopsgården district, the ‘One Stop Future Shop’ project helps start-ups to develop their concepts and ideas. EU Cohesion Policy funds have made the project possible and more than 50 new companies were established in the first six months. Watch the Smart Regions episode to learn about some special stories around this project.

More information on the project: https://europa.eu/investeu/projects/one-stop-future-shop-gives-start-ups-chance_en

Renovated thanks to EU Cohesion Policy funds, Officine Garibaldi is a multifunctional structure with a surface of almost 5,000 square meters in Pisa, Italy. Part of the cultural and historic heritage of the city, it is an innovative property, from an architectural point of view and in terms of energy sustainability. On the first floor there are offices, co-working spaces and training rooms, while on the ground floor there are event rooms and a library. Watch this Smart Regions episode with Euronews and find out more about this intergenerational and intercultural center, which is also a space for young people who can find support to realise their entrepreneurial and project ideas.

The ‘IT4Innovations Centre of Excellence’ is the first supercomputer centre of its kind in Czechia. The new infrastructure is kitted out with the very latest in information technology, including high-performance devices for simulations, modelling and computations. Such tools can be used to simulate climate change, manage traffic and even help prevent natural disasters. Other important areas for research and development at the centre include advancing nanotechnologies, voice and speech recognition technology, and creating new algorithms for industrial product design. The centre, which opened in 2014, ranks among the top 100 most powerful supercomputer centres in the world.
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This EU Cohesion Policy co-funded project has enabled the mass digitalisation of documents of the Slovak National Library and Archives. Two new state-of-the-art facilities were built: a digitisation centre for printed cultural heritage materials, and a document conservation and restoration centre. In total, over 2.5 million cultural heritage objects were digitised over three years, involving 200 staff and creating 93 new sustainable jobs. This unique project has opened up a digital future for the library and archives, making the documents accessible to a wider audience while ensuring their preservation for future generations.

How does digitalization and additive manufacturing disrupt the building industry? Could 3D-printing and the internet change the way we make things forever? Can we in the near future e-mail buildings to each other? And what if we can print a building, shredder it, and then print something new with the same material? How will this have a positive effect on the environment and the economy? And how will it influence our notion of craftsmanship? There are many questions the 3D Print Canal House brings to mind. Find out about this innovative Cohesion Policy co-funded project.
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SensDx operates in the medical diagnostics area. Thanks to EU Cohesion Policy, this start-up has developed diagnostic testing technologies intended for people and animals, allowing users to accurately identify specific diseases quickly, safely and at a low cost.

The iOS Developer Academy’s infrastructures have been renovated thanks to the European Regional Development Funds while students can get scholarships thanks to the European Social Fund. In other words, this project shows how EU funds have contributed to attract interest and investment from big companies like Apple to make the Academy happen! The Academy attracts more and more students every year, supporting them in their IT career.

Schools in central Europe are learning about the importance of saving energy, thanks to an EU-backed project which has created a series of education programmes, ‘smart energy’ tools and an innovative ‘energy guardians’ programme encouraging pupils and teachers to lead by example in saving the environment but also on school costs. The building sector in Europe is wide open for energy optimisation. Schools, in particular, are not generally efficient users of energy and run up costs. To reduce their carbon footprint and expenses, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources (RES) are needed, especially in schools built decades ago and in regions where less investment has taken place. ENERGY@SCHOOL is helping the public sector implement ‘energy smart’ action plans and pilots in over 40 primary and secondary schools. Its integrated approach educates and trains school staff and pupils to become senior and junior energy guardians.
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This time we explored how the Scale-Up project is revolutionising the way of doing business in Denmark. The aim of this cross-regional initiative is to boost the regional specialisation within the areas of strength, and to establish elite of high growth companies in Denmark by providing training for the best entrepreneurs and SMEs within the areas of strength. Scale-up Denmark covers a wide variety of business fields, which all have a potential to foster accelerated growth among business. In 2016, the first hubs were installed within these business fields: Health and Welfare Technology, Energy Efficiency, Bio economy, Information and Communication technology, Life Science – Biotechnology, Food, Maritime Industry, Smart Industry, Clean Tech.

The Aviation Academy Austria is a training centre for airline pilots as well as for jobs in the civil flying with the type of airplane ATR42/72. The training centre was built within the first stage of expansion and was part-financed by the ERDF. The founders of the Aviation Academy Austria have been working for companies like Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Lauda Air and Tyrolean Airways for more than 15 years. During this time they have gained extensive experience in flight training, flight operations and the airline business in general. All are licensed flight instructors and have type-ratings such as A320, A330, A340, B747, B777, F70/100 with several thousand hours of flight experience altogether.
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The "Climate Smart Innovation" project is helping to develop forest-based industries in the centre of Sweden. It is providing a long-term regional platform for building SME capacity in innovation and sustainable development. The project contributes to boost knowledge and skills in climate protection, the bioeconomy and circular economy among businesses and other industry stakeholders. Closer interaction with researchers, students and international partners is encouraged, and the public sector and civil society representatives are participating in project workshops. The platform will make regional innovation more efficient and profitable while helping businesses transition to the low-carbon economy.
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To help long-established sectors in the Basilicata Region become more globally competitive, the EU-funded Mapping Basilicata project refreshed old-fashioned processes with innovative ideas, designs and technology.
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Smart Regions presents the recycling project RCERO in Ljubljana, the largest cohesion environmental project combining 37 municipalities. The project is one of the best examples of regional cooperation in Slovenia due to the large number of municipalities – representing as much as a third of the Slovenian population – relying on the facility's services. It is one of the largest centres in Europe which deals with a third of all waste in Slovenia, a state-of-the-art sustainable technology used to process waste in facilities for mechanical biological waste treatment.
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What are the problems that migrants and refugees face when they arrive in Europe’s towns and cities? They can range from the social support system to open hostility. DG Regio and Euronews invite you to watch the episode on the integration of immigrants and refugees in Europe. In the framework of the 30th anniversary of the Cohesion Policy, Euronews travels to Utrecht to investigate the EU-funded project Plan Einstein. It provides an inclusive approach to facilitating integration from day 1 by introducing a shared living concept in which local young people and asylum seekers live together.
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In Dolní Břežany, on the outskirts of the Czech capital Prague, the world's biggest laser is being built by a top international team! More than 300 scientists and engineers work at the ultra-modern laser research facility in the town. The estimated cost of the pan-European project is over 270 million euros, most of which comes from the European Regional Development Fund. The centre is one of three pillars of European laser research, with other centres in Romania and Hungary.
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This time we travel to Nicosia in Cyprus to present Theleprometeus project aimed to enrich the working environment for healthcare professionals with effective and readily available and easily accessible information and knowledge, enhance distance-learning and train patients and their families. Once ready, the platform was rolled out with training provided to all staff members at Nicosia General Hospital and Heraklion General Hospital.
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This video showcase how this sea water powered project in Marseille brought benefits to citizens and business.
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