Cooperation between maritime economies is nothing new to nations bordering the Baltic Sea. As far back as the thirteenth century, the Hanseatic League brought prosperity and political cohesion to 170 cities that shared a common interest: economic growth and stability across the Baltic region. That’s why it is so surprising to learn that this same region has lagged behind other EU macro-regions when it comes to developing international cooperation and promoting the “blue economy.”

Recently, however, INTERMARE’s South Baltic project has sought to use cross-border coordination of efforts to promote the region’s maritime sector. They say that while small nations like Lithuanian have previously lacked the resources to compete with other European economies, the region as a whole can team in order to promote blue economy enterprises.

INTERMARE South Baltic supports the region’s maritime economy through a network of companies and stakeholders joined under a common brand, which can be easily recognized in regional, European, and global markets. The goal is simple: improve cooperation within regional supply chains, share knowledge, and achieve greater recognition for small and medium-sized enterprises in the South Baltic region.

The Lithuanian Case

Recent trends show a conversion of large scale conventional maritime business models toward modular, sustainable, socially-aware, and innovation-driven industries, such as coastal and marine tourism, marine biotechnologies, aquaculture, and renewable offshore energy. This shift creates a challenge for traditional maritime businesses, but it can also bring increased opportunities for international partnerships, especially when it comes to educational and economic development.

In the EU, technology leaders like Germany, Denmark, Sweden have offered their expertise to effectively foster blue economy business and support facilities in partnering nations. Because of this, Lithuanian maritime expertise is growing. While, Lithuania is mainly the recipient of blue growth technologies and culture, there is a great deal of optimism about where they are headed.

ON&T spoke with Prof. Stasys Paulauskas, head of Lithuania’s Strategic Self-Management Institute, about some of the opportunities that have emerged from his organization’s partnerships as facilitated by INTERMARE South Baltic.

“We highly appreciate EU Interreg development programmes like South Baltic (SB), Baltic Sea Region (BSR), etc., which let our scientists and developers get involved in international projects.”

Prof. Paulaskuaskas says that over a decade learning from the best practices and experience of partner countries empowered the Strategic Self-Management Institute (SSI), along with Klaipeda University (KU), to offer offshore wind energy educational coursework. He also noted that participation in projects that examined offshore wind energy opportunities in the marine territories of Poland, Lithuania and the Kaliningrad district (Russia) played a key role in developing the expertise needed for this effort.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) predicts a tenfold increase in offshore wind energy capacities in the South Baltic in the coming years. Cross-border cooperation via INTERMARE South Baltic can help make that happen. Through their success, the region will have the chance to position itself among the top offshore wind energy regions.

For more information, visit these websites:
INTERMARE South Baltic
Interreg South Baltic Programme
European Regional Development Fund

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