Identifying appropriate funding for a project may prove a real challenge to everybody. In macro-regional context, characterized by broad participation of a numerous categories of stakeholders, the search for financial resources is even tougher for small and/or unexperienced organisations. In many cases, they were not on the list of eligible beneficiaries of the mainstream, cross-border or transnational programmes or feature significant budgetary constraints within their organisations.
Their active involvement in the implementation of the #EUSDR depends to a great extent on simplified funding mechanisms and lower thresholds for participation. Funding facilities would allow them to gradually develop their ideas and build capacity for transnational project management.
EUSDR PA 10 – Institutional Capacity and Cooperation, jointly coordinated by Austria and Slovenia, tackled the challenge of supporting small organizations with limited access to financial resources. As a result of their efforts, the START – Danube Region Project Fund initiative, funded by the European Commission and the City of Vienna , was launched in 2014.
Project promoters from all over the Danube Region sent more than 1.000 applications in the two calls that have been published. Eventually, 48 projects with more than 200 partner organisations from 14 different countries were selected for funding, and successfully implemented their project ideas that covered all priority areas in #EUDSR.
Through START, non-governmental organisations, universities and research institutions were supported to implement small projects with macro-regional impact or to set up larger projects eligible for funding in other EU-programmes. Thanks to those projects important steps were undertaken for assessing the risk on Danube Area roads, better energy planning, improvement of wastewater facilities in Ukraine, raise awareness on the importance of the soils in the Danube Region, Roma integration across Danube etc. All projects financed by START are collected in a brochure.
Based on the experience from setting up a seed money facility, Priority Area 10 formulated recommendations for the implementation of similar facilities.
For the incoming period, PA 10 has the ambitious target to develop at least one innovative funding instrument with a particular focus on needs of local actors and civil society.