Photo credits: Ludmila Karelina

My CBC Story – Ludmila Karelina

Vice-president
Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Russia 

Ludmila Karelina works at the Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SPbCCI) as the project manager of international projects. She started at the Chamber in 1998 with the projects funded for example by the European Community’s TACIS Programme. The first Russian-Finnish project, which Ludmila joined, focused on the SME’s development and increasing managerial skills and cooperation between Russian and Finnish businesses. From this first and very interesting experience, she still sees the continuing cooperation of those actors who participated into pilot groups and found good partners. Since the first actions, the SPbCCI has undertaken many international projects in the context of Russian-Finnish cross-border cooperation development, in particularly in the fields like economic cooperation, investments and environmental issues. 

“It was actually the first Russian-Finnish project that gave start to my professional career with the international projects, more than 20 years ago, recalls Ludmila. 

Today she manages projects funded by the Cross-Border Cooperation instrument, also in the frame of the South-East Finland – Russia CBC 2014-2020 Programme. In addition, her responsibilities cover the supervision of anticorruption compliance, business education and SME’s development.

 

St Petersburg Chamber – century of SME services 

Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the oldest chamber is Russia, founded in 1921, and today its membership is owned by more than 4 000 enterprises. The Chamber, which soon reaches the age of 100 years, is a leader in organizing partner search for foreign companies interested of Russian markets and it supports also Russian companies looking for businesses abroad.  

The Chamber is actively involved in the development of cooperation with Finland, and at the level of CBC projects, but also in the frame of collaboration of Russian and Finnish chambers. Every year it organizes over 20 missions abroad and numerous business meetings in Saint Petersburg. Available services also include experts and consulting support as well as trainings for the SMEs. 

A lot has been done, but more is still foreseen, and it is necessary to continue cooperation in many areas. Exchanging know-how and building capacity with its partners, the SPbCCI is investing future by building also on new technologies. What comes to the priorities of the cross-border cooperation programme and its main objectives that also outline the governmental level cooperation, the operative prerequisites of the SMEs emphasize the importance.

 

CBC as an essential tool  

The CBC programme allows fulfilling of research and piloting development in the most important fields of cooperation to improve the economic and social environment of the border regions. At the same time, a very important aspect of the CBC programme is the ability to create consortiums of Russian-Finnish partners for each project and individual tasks, sharing best practices and to achieving best results.   

Cross-border cooperation fits well to Chamber’s role as an initiator, supporter and coordinator of reliable partnerships. It has successfully carried out European Union’s External Cooperation projects in the ENPI CBC 2007-2013 period during the years 2011-2014 when ECOFOOD (project in KEEP) and ILEPRA (project in KEEP) projects were implemented with the Russian-Finnish partner consortiums. 

“Integration of the project’s results to the existing processes of economic and social development of the cross-border regions in Russia and Finland need to be continued at more modern level, taking into account innovative approaches and technologies, as well as current challenges”, says Ludmila. 

The Chamber is already fostering sustainability and continuation with the CBC 2014-2020 actions in their operational territory. It won award from the South-East Finland – Russia CBC programme’s first call in 2017 for the project called Green InterTraffic (project portfolio) and is acting now as the lead partner for the group of five experienced Finnish and Russian organisations. This project aims at increasing ecological and safe transport by elaborating effective measures of innovative solutions. New project, Bringing Together, which aims at contributing to the development of common digital technologies received award just recently and launches soon grant contract negotiations with the SEFR CBC Managing Authority. In total, these two projects include financial support from the European Union, Russia and Finland nearly € 1,2 Mio and a handful of important and challenging work for the nearest years. 

The CBC funding is very important for the implementation of research and high-tech projects, SME’s support and environment. As for the organization whose main mission is to promote regional economic development and creation of favourable conditions for all types of entrepreneurial activities the Chamber values such opportunities. 

“Working in the field of international projects, experience in the developing and management of such projects certainly had an impact on my career and today’s position at the SPbCCI”, highlights Ludmila. And she is not alone with these extremely notable observations. It is not only the visible and verified results that matter. A lot of individual and organisation level expertise on international and regional cooperation has been created during the current CBC 2014-2020 programme and its predecessors. This development is expected to be continued on good approaches, methods, technologies and innovations from where the new project ideas are already building up and looking for 2021-2027 financing opportunities.  

Editor: Sari Loisa