As the Innovation Circle Network is also a partner of TENTacle the latest ICN board meeting in Riga – 25th to 26th of January – had a strong focus on the project and it’s current status. “TENTacle focuses on transport issues and it aims to find new ways for regions to be better connected to the European transport system”, explained ICN general secretary Alf Johansen from Norway. He introduced once more the idea of TENTacle and it’s different showcases. The seven different cases, partly cross-border initiatives, will deliver detailed reports and results that will effect the future infrastructure system in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

Alf Johansen is personally involved in the Scandinavian Borderland as well is the IC network to support the project. Together with the NGO Transnorden and the border council of Värmland in Sweden and Ostfold in Norway, the project partners work to improve the access to the two national capitals – Oslo and Stockholm – for prosperity and growth in the Karlstad Region. This pilot case focuses on a prosperity and growth Strategy that aims to include the corridors Oslo Oerebro and Gothenburg-Karlstad in the Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridor network to mobilise public and market stakeholders to improve the access to the two national capitals, integrate public transport services and connect the local industries in the borderland area of Värmland and Ostfold to international networks.

"We finalized our mobility plan, that is showing the effects of a better connection to TEN-T core network for Vidzeme region", explained ICN chairwoman of the board and international relations coordinator for Vidzeme Planning Region, Rita Merca. Vidzeme holds another showcase, the mobility investment plan 2030 for Vidzeme. It addresses the decline processes in the predominantly rural and remote area of Vidzeme accompanied by negative business development trends. 

Another hot topic ICN members discussed during the board meeting was the news that China has recently launched its "Polar Silk Road" strategy. Arctic and Nordic regions are in the focus. Recently Chinese investors have been showing interest for investing in modern railways in Scandinavia. China considers to contribute with competence and funding to construct the whole new Nordic-Arctic high-speed rail system. Such project would significantly reduce CO2 emissions which are hazardous to the global environment. This is only one among a range of benefits. Trade, regional growth and cooperation between Europe and Asia will be boosted and secured in a new way and the Baltic Sea Region can become an even more attractive region in this perspective. The challenge now is to learn and understand opportunities which can emerge, and to have good regional strategies to reap benefits from the trillion euros investments which are proposed for the coming decades.

Innovation Circle Network is one of the promoters of the Nordic-Baltic express railway network. The board didn´t exclude the option that this initiative can be implemented by governments or partly by non governmental actors, in cooperation with global players. A Chinese delegation travelled to Oslo a few weeks ago to discuss the plans which will be the largest Nordic infrastructure project ever.  Innovation Circle Network has for many years worked with the idea to bridge Asia with Europe, including BSR. The New Silk Road initiative (Belt and Road) is moving very fast and already has opened up a range of new opportunities. Together with other TENTACLE project partners the ICN has initiated the cooperation with China. The network will through coming years give a high priority to this initiative.

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