Balázs Barta, Manging director, Pannon Business Network.

Is there something special about BRIDGES? How would you describe it?

The positive point of Interreg Europe is the fact, that it has a whole Europe coverage. It gives us a lot of opportunities to learn from other regions but in most of the cases it is very difficult to make things really concrete. It is a big challenge, because the policy level appears to be too abstract. But BRIDGES project made it happen. It was very useful for us in BRIDGES, that we could combine concrete investments helping SMEs to develop, with the policy learning and structural way of cooperation with Manging Authority to improve the performance.

Has the interregional cooperation been useful? Has is fulfilled  its tasks?

We have a lot of experience in working in multinational model. And there is always the centre of competence, the headquarters who always teach you. But BRIDGES project provides a kind of substitute for this structural learning model, so that we can learn from each other. The second important point is more abstract. It is a human aspect of the cooperation. For us it is a big value, that we can meet face to face, we can get to know each other, we can get to know people behind.

What has BRIDGES project brought to your region? What is the added value of the project?

Our main objective in BRIDGES is the reposition of the furniture industry. People say, it is old fashioned and not creating the value. In Hungary we tend to have the lobbing in a way of informal networking. We think that, if it is formal, it is risky at the same time.  In BRIDGES we were constantly encouraged by the lead partner to formalize it. As a result we created a kind of platform with involvement of all relevant players: clusters, university, municipalities and we started to structure the collaboration. We identified what we can do in terms of value creation, in terms of raw materials or research & business. After that we claimed to the Ministry - the Managing Authority, that we are doing Interreg project, which is being supports by them. This way we get engaged also the Ministry to the platform’s meetings and somehow it became official. Now our biggest success it that, the wood and furniture industry is a part of strategic industries in Hungary. If we look at the whole process, we can say that BRIDGES helped us to go through the procedure of including wood and furniture into the strategic industries in Hungary and to finalize the formal agreement with the MA.