Interregional Partnership VSCT

S3 Pilot Action – Interregional Partnership “Virtual and Smart Cultural Tourism”

Funding Background

Within the framework of the European Union’s coronavirus response and recovery plan, the Commission initiated a new support action for interregional partnerships, aiming to mobilise regional and national innovation actors to address the impact of coronavirus. This new pilot action, which builds on the successful experience of a similar action on “interregional innovation projects” launched in late 2017, now supports interregional partnerships in four different areas: coronavirus-related innovative solutions, circular economy in health, sustainable and digital tourism, and hydrogen technologies in carbon-intensive regions.

Selected partnerships benefit from the Commission experts’ support, providing, among others, advice on how to best combine EU funds to finance projects. In addition to this hands-on support from the Commission, each partnership can benefit from external advisory service of up to 100.000 EUR for scale-up and commercialisation activities. The money comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The work with the partnerships will run as a Pilot Action until the end of 2021. The pilot further stimulates interregional cooperation, with the possibility for the partnerships to apply for support under the new programmes and the “Interregional Innovation Investment” instrument from 2022 onwards.

Successful Project Submission

TMO was authorized by the state of Thuringia/DE to answer the above mentioned “Call for expression of interest for Covid-19 Response and Recovery Partnerships – Pilot Action for Interregional Innovation” and to submit a partnership application in the area “sustainable and digital tourism” that was selected for funding in January 2021.

In this one-year Pilot Action the following 7 European regions will join forces:

Thuringia, Germany (lead) – represented by Sander Münster (FSU Jena) + Heiko Kahl (Digitalagentur Thüringen) regional starting advisor

Saxony, Germany – represented by Georg Fertig (U. Halle / Computer Genealogy Assoc. / Leipzig Time Machine) & Thomas Köhler (TU Dresden)

Lower Austria – represented by Thomas Aigner (ICARUS)

Cyprus – represented by Marinos Ioannides (Cyprus University of Technology CUT)

Paris, France – represented by Valerie Gouet-Brunet (National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN))

Greater Amsterdam, Netherlands – represented by Julia Noordegraaf (University of Amsterdam)

Galicia, Spain – represented by Juan Castro (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC))

The interregional cooperation intends to develop advisory and support structures for research institutions, companies, regional authorities and cultural institutions such as museums or heritage sites to get advice and help in establishing new digital formats.

Business cases emerging from the regions will be supported through concrete actions including co-investment models, IP and certification support, business coaching and consultancy, linked with EU funding instruments.

Next Steps

The partnership has set up a Survey (open from March until June 2021) to map and identify possible business cases, services and service providers on regional and EU level, as well as barriers against successful commercialisation and innovation uptake and specific needs for support.

The aim of this survey is to gather stakeholder input for designing and implementing interregional structures and support mechanisms for successful innovations, scale-ups and commercialisation of business cases in the field of Virtual and Smart Cultural Tourism. The project sees Virtual and Smart Tourism as the application of digital technologies to learn, discover, experience and consume cultural attractions in a tourism destination.

Submissions can be made focussing on the following fields of interest:

  • Propose a business case: the partnership will select a set of 4-8 business cases for intensive support and consultancy (e.g. on financing, business planning, marketing etc.) towards realization.
  • Nominate demands: the partnership will shape a toolkit of services on EU/regional scale to support stakeholders in the regions to overcome bottlenecks (e.g. access to funding, legal support, IPR) of digital cultural tourism.
  • Advise EU/regional development: the partnership examines the current state of digital and sustainable tourism in the regions in order to advise EU and regional authorities in shaping targeted actions.
  • Open your services/ expertise for new users: the partnership will shape a toolkit based on services/expertise on EU/regional/local scale to be included in the consultancy offers for stakeholders in the regions.

Additionally, regional stakeholder workshops will be organised in cooperation with partnering regions to bring together researchers, innovators, business support agencies, regional public authorities and investors etc. to work on joint business and use cases.

After the start-up phase, supported by the European Commission, the partnership is to be expanded to other European regions, in particular from the network of TMO, where the growing amount of Local Time Machine Projects build an easily accessible and valuable stock of potential use cases.


In case you missed our information and matchmaking event “Digitisation, Cultural Heritage and Smart Tourism – Infoday and Matchmaking Event” staged on 9th June 2021 – find here a short summary: