The level of political will and engagement is excellent and the potential for innovation in functional regions is very high. The transnational workings days are a recurring biannual event and this first conference gave a positive indication for further development.
"It means a lot to us to be able to contribute to green transition. I am very pleased to see so many cities, clusters and research institutions participate in this. I can tell that there is a real will to cooperate and to solve the big challenges that we are facing. I truly believe that this project can move things and create great results," says Thomas Kastrup-Larsen, Mayor of the City of Aalborg.
"I think this project is on a very practical level. It is important that we have all the main stakeholders on board, not least the municipalities and the cities - in the end, they will have to implement, whatever we invent or develop. We also have the small and medium enterprises, as those who have to produce what we implement – we are taking a scientific approach. We can learn from each other’s experiences and exchange knowledge", says Walter Pelka, President of the Hafencity University in Hamburg.
This is what Transnational Working Days are all about. The collaboration and trust comes by exchanging know-how and best practice across the entire North Sea region.
"This project allows us to collaborate more and up-scale innovation, so that we can become more competitive on a global level," says Eva Ternegren, politician from the City of Gothenburg.
"It is important for us to combine 'wise heads' with 'wise hands' and make the region competitive and collaborative," says Arne Nielsen, Member of Board in the Development Board of the North Denmark Region.
In the Northern Connections project, speaking of regions means speaking of the entire North Sea region.
"The idea is to use existing functional regions or create new top-down functional regions and cooperation among regions in order to be more innovative and competitive. We need critical mass in the North Sea Region if we want to keep jobs in our businesses and be competitive with China and USA," says Rolf Barnim Foth from the Hamburg Ministry for Economy, Transportation and Innovation.
In addition to a separate field trip for politician, project participants visited Aalborg Portland, the local cement production facility, which is not only located directly on top the source of the raw material, but with its heat surplus provides 25,000 homes with energy, and has the future capacity for 10,000 more. The combination of heavy industry as energy producer and homes as energy consumers forms part of one of the proposed Danish Living Labs.