Turning the crisis into an opportunity: concrete examples from NWE projects

The COVID-19 outbreak has considerably impacted the flow of professional activities all around the globe. This unexpected pandemic forced the Interreg North-West Europe Programme and its projects to take precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and project partners.

In order to minimise the negative effects of the lockdown on our projects, the JS prepared a set of measures to help projects to cope with this unprecedent situation. Despite some inevitable difficulties, the Programme was delighted to see how some projects managed to deliver their tasks planned for the first half of the year creatively, turning such difficult times into opportunities to thrive.

For instance, “Secondary Raw Materials for Concrete Precast Products” (SeRaMCo) was forced to postponed its final conference to 2021. However, the project did an outstanding job in adapting to the crisis and managed to continue their series of documentaries which highlight the most innovative aspects of their activities.

In an interview, the Project Leader, Prof. Christian Glock from the University of Kaiserslautern said: “We are learning more about digital communication and methods. Considering our overall project goal, which is saving natural resources, it could be that the crisis will accelerate this transition to more sustainability in saving resources and thinking local. We can contribute with products and methods”.

" It could be that the crisis will accelerate this transition to more sustainability in saving resources and thinking local."

Another creative solution comes from the PowerVIBES project, whose work was highly impacted by lockdown measures. With music festivals being cancelled all over Europe, project partners were unable to showcase the Green Energy Mill (GEM), an energy tower which provides a sustainable solution for large-scale musical events. Yet, that didn’t stop them to come up with an alternative action in the form of a set of six videos that provide a digital tour to the GEM Tower, raising awareness of how  solar and wind energy can power sustainable music festivals.

Last but not least, why not start to discuss the advantages of digital applications in a context of lockdown and social distancing? Such a chance was seized by the project “E-mental health innovation and transnational implementation platform North West Europe” (eMEN), which aims  at sensitising all relevant stakeholders and the broader public to the use of e-mental health applications. eMEN is promoting a tailored research on the benefits of digital applications for patients, including efficacy, cost-effectiveness and implementation strategies. The project just released a guidance document for European policymakers and stakeholders in the field contributing to a paradigm shift in the way e-mental health applications are traditionally used.

The NWE team welcome all these great project initiatives and will continue to do its utmost to minimise the impacts of the pandemic on all Programme activities in the months to come.

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