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International collaboration conference in Inverness

Published: 24/09/2018

More than a hundred delegates from nine countries gathered in Inverness on 20 September for an annual conference on tackling common challenges and realising common opportunities.

The Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) programme 2018 conference was hosted at Eden Court Theatre by Scotland as partner country, with support from HIE.

Northern regions of Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Norway, along with the whole of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are all involved in the collaboration, which has been ongoing for around 20 years.

It aims to generate vibrant, competitive and sustainable communities across Europe’s most remote regions, through innovation, entrepreneurship and growth initiatives.

The programme has clocked up hundreds of projects, on topics such as supporting SMEs with accessing innovation, developing new approaches to services delivery, tackling marine litter and supporting women entrepreneurs in sparsely populated communities.

As a Scottish partner in the NPA programme, HIE recently secured £143,000 from NPA for the £240,000 W-Power project to empower women entrepreneurs in sparsely populated communities.

Over the next three years this will build capacity among women entrepreneurs, strengthen the work of groups and services set up to support women in business, and encourage more self-employment among women in sparsely populated communities.

Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said:

“We were delighted to welcome this year’s NPA conference to Scotland. The event was a great opportunity to showcase what the programme has achieved so far and what difference it is making across the northern periphery areas.

“For Scotland, this was also an opportunity to engage with stakeholders across the UK and Europe and emphasise the importance of continued collaboration with our northern European neighbours on issues of joint interest.”

The NPA’s contribution to the sustainable development of the wider Arctic region is recognised by both the Scottish and UK Governments, and the EU Commission.

Addressing the conference, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee MSP, said:

“The Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme is a great example of what can be achieved through European Territorial Cooperation – giving people in Scotland the chance to collaborate internationally on cutting edge work which will change lives for the better.

“I am proud of Scotland’s long tradition as a strong and valued partner, working with other countries in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area.

“Scottish organisations have been awarded just under €60 million to date under the 2014-2020 European Territorial Cooperation programmes and the Scottish Government is committed to remaining a part of European Territorial Cooperation in the future to strengthen our partnership with our European neighbours.”

The NPA conference theme was “People of the North - Across the Generations”, recognising Scotland’s Year of Young People. It included sessions on technology, a youth filming initiative, and the history of the regions’ people.

Another example of an NPA project is Circular Ocean, led by Environmental Research Institute/University of the Highlands and Islands. This project seeks to inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs to realise the hidden opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. It has been recognised as worthy of the European Commission RegioStars award in 2016. This prestigious award celebrates some of the best examples of European collaboration that result in tangible benefits for the regions involved and that can be shared across the wider European community.

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