Review on One BSR - An interview with project manager Franziska Schindler

10.11.2014 |

After having accompanied ARS BALTICA for two years as manager of the One BSR project Franziska Schindler gave us a review and her personal insight into the project’s implementation, achievements and future perspectives.

Ms Schindler, first of all could you describe shortly what One BSR actually is?

Sure, One BSR is the follow up project to “BaltMet Promo”, co-funded by the EU via the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013, with the aim of bringing together stakeholders, organisations and people who want to bring the region forward as a whole by fostering the cooperation between the individual countries. We have focused on four different areas to fulfill this aim which were tourist attraction, investment promotion, talent retention and identity building. The last area, identity building, was headed by ARS BALTICA.

Which were your concrete tasks?

For instance, it was my task to organise several round table discussions together with my team which broached the issue of our four main topics and were attended by experts, politicians, artists or also students, depending on the topic the discussion had. Moreover I carried out a part of the public relations work for the project and thereby promoted the Baltic Sea Region on platforms like facebook, twitter, vimeo and youtube. To support these platforms with additional material I also worked together with film teams which produced documentary films about the discussions. Furthermore we built up an own news website called newswave on which young journalists could write about current affairs in their countries. Simultaneously, there was a blogger platform on it and it was my duty to search and support these bloggers who published stories of their daily live.

Which tasks have proved as most difficult during the implementation of the project?

On the one hand I would say that two years is actually a too short time period for such a project. In the initial phase when a newly constituted team begins to work you simply need some time to orientate yourself and figure out in which direction the project should develop. In my opinion it would be helpful to continue with those types of projects for at least three years to really exploit their full potential. Moreover, the mode of operation turned out as a little difficult. Even though we met several times at project meetings and BSR conferences we could have needed more meetings. Having skype or E-mail contact can’t actually replace the value of a personal discussion.

Which were the results of One BSR?

Since my main task was the field of identity building I can’t tell you too much about the individual contents of the other work packages but still I can report about their main results: The tourism working group realized studies on which places are the most attractive in the Baltic Sea Region and why and on that base created different routes for circular tours around the Baltic Sea which they advertised at different tour operators. They mainly focused on the US and the Japanese market since these are momentarily the biggest customers for such tours.

First of all universities worked together for the work package talent retention. They made investigations about how to keep young students or junior scientists in the Baltic Sea Region and how to make the region attractive for foreign professionals. From their results emerged a Toolkit with suggestions about how to implement these objects which was published on the One BSR website.

Under a further working topic several investment promotion agencies were brought together which aimed to foster the collaborations in the investment area between Baltic and international investors. Honestly I was not too involved in their work sector so I can’t tell you much more about their achievements.

Our work package was a little different from the others since identity is more a construction of thought, a mental image. We concentrated on the questions: “Which is the image that the Baltic Sea Region has abroad?”, “Which are the things that the Baltic Sea Nations have in common?” and “How can they be branded as one unity?” By emphasizing the cultural originalities of the whole Region we hope to stimulate the collaboration between the individual nations and call attention to the meaning of the Baltic Sea States as one union. We created a Portfolio of images and identities out of our research findings which we also published on the One BSR website.

What experiences did you personally take from the project?

I learned a lot about networking on a higher international level and about how to implement this kind of projects. For me it was a very exciting experience to participate in such a big EU project since it was very different from the ones I had done before, from the great amount of requirements which we had to comply up to the bigger budget.  Moreover I really enjoyed the cooperation with the artists and the fact that I could work creatively, for example when I co-organized the exhibition we realized for the Helsinki Comic Festival. All in all I would say that the project was very helpful for me, it has been well investigated two years so to speak (laughs).

What was the main success of the project in your opinion?

I think that - apart from the achievements of the individual work packages - building up a network of people who are interested in the Baltic Sea Region and try to bring it forward was its biggest success. Through the events we organized and the 17 organisation which participated thousands of people got in touch with this topic. This network will continue to exist and thereby likewise the collaboration within the Baltic Nations. I hope that people will continue using this opportunity actively.

So is there any strategy about how the project results will be used in the future?

Since no follow up project which is based on our concrete project results is planned this is still an open question at present. Nevertheless, I am completely sure that the things we have investigated, discovered and produced will still be used in the future. As I said: The network we built up will continue to exist, one example for that is the fact that the investment agencies which participated in the One BSR project recently had a meeting in the same constellation. In the tourism field there is the city of Hamburg which lead this work-package and is still active in the US market. Besides of that the results we won from our investigations are still available to the public and can easily be used for further propositions. With the project we just did one step into the right direction, from now on it’s just a question of initiative.

Interview by Carolin Paar

For more information about the project visit the official website

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