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Within the European Union in recent years there has been growing recognition of the importance of sustainable regional development and the contribution of health to achieving it. This means health development leading to growth in social and human capital and the multiplier effect this can have in contributing massively to economic growth. This is reflected in the EU’s Cohesion Policy and in the 2007-2013 round, Structural Funds explicitly included health sector investment, with an early emphasis on health infrastructure.
In the newer Member States and Convergence regions across Europe, governments, politicians and policy makers see SF as an important funding source for supporting the modernisation of health services. However, effective health investment needs to be well planned.Have public authorities invested in option appraisal to clearly inform investment planning and decisions? Do public servants and hospital managers know how to use Structural Funds efficiently?Do they have enough data and evidence of the benefits of investments in health? What are the main difficulties in applying for funding and managing structural funds in the health sector?In this context EUREGIO III (EIII) project has been developed.
THE ORGANIZATION Health ClusterNET (HCN) is a non-profit European interregional organisation owned by its member regions. The aim of HCN is to inform the contribution of health sector investment (from national and EU funds) in achieving sustainable regional development and ensuring quality of life by sharing practical “how-to” knowledge and innovative solutions between members and stakeholders. INSIGHTSAs a knowledge hub HCN seeks to facilitate the expertise and understanding that makes it possible for members and stakeholders to explore and solve common problems through insight, innovation and creating shared value. Three insights are important:Regional and cross-border clusters combining public and private sectors in successful partnership will be significant part of the twenty-first century’s social and economic structure.Publicly funded health systems are or can be a net generator of GDP, but nobody has worked out how to release and maximize this hidden capacity effectively. No one has yet shown that they know the rules of this new gameThis is a ‘know-how’ capacity gap. While that gap exists we will not be effective in maximizing the benefits of public and pivate sector-based investment. FUNDINGTo achieve its objectives, HCN does not compete for contracts. Its non-profit income come from two main sources (i) membership fees that are at levels relevant to four categories of affordability (ii) successful applications for grant funding that are led by HCN, a member region or another partner organization. These grants are received primarily from the EC (Health Programme, Interreg IVC interregional operations, FP7) or from EU regions. To this end, HCN is already accepted in the directory of European Health NGOs published by the European Commission.
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