On the 2nd of October, 2013, a group of Dutch professionals from the cultural and creative sectors were invited to meet with some of their German colleagues across the border. This trip was the result of collaboration between the Dutch Design Desk Europe (DDDE), the Economic Center for Creative Economy (ECCE), and the Dutch province of Limburg ( and their renewed commitment to work together across the national border which separates them geographically.

A bus collected the Dutch group and served as a mobile conversation platform on the way to and from our German locations. The first stop brought us to the Dutch Consulate in Düsseldorf, where Arne van Vliet gave and Jorn Konijn gave presentations on the new EU funding possibilities in the next policy period 2014-2017 (the programme Creative Europe) and some experiences and insights from previous matchmaking projects in India, China and Brazil, respectively. The stay at the consulate combined the presentations with a lunch, after which we left the building through some very futuristic elevators, back to the bus and onto our next stop: the Dortmunder “U”.

This building was once a storage facility for a brewery, and has since been re-purposed into a cultural building, presenting exhibitions, cinema, a restaurant and more. A press event was organized where several speakers, to be named Kurt Eichler, Prof. Dieter Gorny, Noël Lebens, Nicole Maurer, Monika Simshäuser, Prof. Kurt Mehnert, Bernd Scholz and Guido Röcken solidified their agreement to work together and expressed their approval of the latest developments in the collaboration.

DDDE and ECCE are the driving force of the current programme of cultural exchange, while the political climate is very supportive at a local, national, and the EU-wide level. Political representatives Noël Lebens of the Dutch province Limburg, and Monika Simshäuserof the Commission for Arts & Sport in Kulturverband Ruhrgebiet, both attended the event and expressed their enthusiasm for the alliance.

Earlier this year, on April 18th, the province of Limburg, ECCE and DDDE signed a Letter of Intent in which they pledged to work together and share knowledge in order to further the chances of professionals interacting across the border. Both regions have much to offer each other in terms of exchanging knowledge and the establishment of cross-overs in the area of their creative industries. More specifically, they aim for cooperation between the creative industries within the different regions, the creation of relevant interregional and international networks, the realization of interregional projects, making use of relevant financing possibilities coming from the EU meant to support the creative industry, and an effective organizational/administrative cooperation between the regions.

The event of October 2nd was designed to invite and encourage collaboration between the Dutch and German participants, and after having spoken to several of them throughout the day the feedback on this point was overwhelmingly positive. The format of the communal bus ride allowed for the Dutch professionals to mingle amongst themselves which led to many new acquaintances – and the expansion and strengthening of your network is always a positive development.

At the end of the day, participants agreed that meeting each other in a laid-back but focused professional environment was a solid first step in initiating further interaction. Concrete project proposals and common fertile grounds for research studies were discussed and agreed upon. Possibilities for participation in existing formats as well as additional channels of communication will allow the participants to stay in touch easily and build up the future collaboration.