Despite travel disruption in both England and France, more than 100 people still attended the Interreg France (Channel) England final annual event at the Eden Project, Cornwall, on Thursday 16 March 2023.
The event, which was chaired by Sallyann Stephen, Interreg FCE Programme Manager, was attended by project participants, members of the programme monitoring committee, European Commission, and other interested stakeholders. Attendees came from a wide range of organisations from local authorities, universities, to government agencies, NGOs and various industry sectors.
With breath-taking views across the world-famous biomes, the event was a truly inspirational location to celebrate the programme and projects achievements. There were talks, project presentations and project exhibition stands where people could learn more about individual project achievements. During the breaks, project videos were also played on the stage screens.
The event kicked off with a talk from Cllr Carol Mould from Cornwall Council welcoming guests to the region. Cornwall Council is project partner on two FCE projects and several Cornwall based organisations are involved in other FCE projects.
Sam Lucas, Head of Territorial Cooperation at the Department for Levelling, Housing & Communities and a member of the FCE Programme Monitoring Committee delivered a talk highlighting the journey that the Programme has been on and some of its most notable successes, such as funding TIGER, Interreg’s biggest ever project.
A keynote speech was delivered by Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of University of Plymouth. The University has been a very active and engaged partner in the FCE programme and is lead partner for three FCE projects as well as project partner on an additional 5 FCE funded projects. As a university leader, interdisciplinary researcher and various advisory roles with government and funding bodies, Professor Petts was well placed to highlight the significance of Interreg funding and the impact it can have.
After the morning talks, presentations were delivered by seven FCE funded projects, providing them an opportunity to share their individual project results and outputs.
The event was closed by Carolyn Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Groundwork East and former Programme Manager for the Interreg FCE Programme. She talked about the resilience and determination of projects to achieve despite the number of obstacles they faced to implement from Brexit to Covid-19. She talked about the importance of in-person events and the opportunities to network, to pass on knowledge and leave a legacy for the Programme and projects. Delegates were each given a name badge using plantable seed paper and were encouraged to water them and keep them alive, just as project partners have watered and nurtured their projects.
Simon Cheeseman, Sector Lead, Wave & Tidal Energy, ORE Catapult, presented TIGER project
Lydia Burgess Gamble, Lead Project Manager & Mike Williams, Senior Project Manager, both Environment Agency presented PACCo project
Professor Hom Nath Dhakal, University of Portsmouth presented FLOWER project
Professor Mark Fitzsimons, Principal Investigator, University of Plymouth & Nick Willenbrock, Director, CL:AIRE presented ReCon Soil project
Professor Steve Goodhew, Principal Investigator, University of Plymouth presented CobBauge project
Dr Peter Smielewski, Senior Research Associate, Brain Physics Lab, University of Cambridge presented REVERT project
Gabriela Asara, Senior Circular Economy Officer, Essex County Council presented BLUEPRINT project
There were 12 project exhibitor stands representing the Programme’s five specific objectives: ABCD, AIBLE, ASPIRE, AWE, CobBauge, Cool Food Pro, EXPERIENCE, Firedrone, Marineff, Preventing Plastic Pollution, RanTrans and TIGER.
Amongst the projects exhibiting via exhibition stands there were opportunities to demo Cool Food Pro’s carbon calculator which is helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the catering industry, look at photo journals from ASPIRE project participants, which helped to tackle the joint issue of unemployment and obesity through an innovative healthy eating and employability programme, and touch the materials that CobBauge is using to develop a new cob mix that can be used to build more sustainable homes.