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Brussels, 7th December 2006

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Finnish project wins 2006 Grand Prize in European Enterprise Awards

The Y4 Committee, which brings together 36 organisations from Central Finland, has today won the Grand Prize in the European Enterprise Awards. A high level jury, made up of independent experts, awarded the prize because Y4 has brought about a ‘cultural change by spreading entrepreneurial thinking in all layers of society’. At the official ceremony of the first European Enterprise Awards in Brussels five other initiatives from local authorities to support entrepreneurship were rewarded in special categories for Enterprise Support, Red Tape Reduction, Investment in People, Responsible Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurial Trailblazer.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policies, who presented the prizes, said: "The winners demonstrate how public institutions and business can work together to produce new ideas and create new jobs. We have six winning teams represented here today. But more than 400 local authorities from 20 countries participated in this first competition. These numbers show that there is widespread political support for the promotion of entrepreneurship in Europe. I hope that next year will bring similar success stories in even greater numbers.

Michel Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions and host of the event said: “The European Enterprise Awards are a success not only for the six winners, but for all the participating projects demonstrating how European regions and cities provide the springboard for innovation and success.”

Finnish Minister Mauri Pekkarinen, representing the Finnish Presidency of the European Council called this initiative “important and innovative way of rewarding good entrepreneurship policies in Europe as well as an outstanding tool for spreading best policy practice.”

He added that “the Y4-Committee in Central Finland represents an example of a whole society committed to improving the entrepreneurial environment. The Y4 ideology spreads through enthusiasm, motivation and action; its goal is crystallised in the group’s name which derives from four Finnish words beginning with the letter Y: “Promote Entrepreneurship in Society through Co-operation.”

Grand Jury Prize

The Y4 Committee brings together 36 public organisations to make Central Finland a more entrepreneur-friendly region. Its strategy ensures that the business perspective is taken into account in all decision-making and that people are encouraged to be entrepreneurs whilst adopting ethically sustainable values.

Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award

The initiative for start-ups and Business Transfers, IFEX, (Baden-Württemberg Germany) is a wide-ranging regional initiative to support business start-ups and transfers with special focus on women and youth. Its specialised network of 1.400 public and private actors helped to safe-guard 25.000 jobs in the last two years by supporting 2.100 business transfers.

Enterprise Support Award

The Lienz Marketing Department (Stadtgemeinde Lienz, Austria) has revitalised the city of 12.000 inhabitants and created a cooperative town vision between local residents and entrepreneurs. This has brought back visitors, tourists and clients regenerating the town’s economy and image.

Red Tape Reduction Award

The On-the-Spot Firm in Coimbra (Portugal) is a special new regime that makes it possible to create a company in less than an hour, in a single office and at a much lower cost than before. The measure was so successful that it was extended to the whole country saving companies over 900.000€ and 150.000 days and creating 10.000 new jobs in the last year.

Investment in People Award

The Foundation for Research and Training in the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (FREE) is a non-profit association which works with the Walloon region (Belgium) to spread the “spirit of entrepreneurship” among school children, students, teachers and the general public. It has produced educational toolkits to stimulate entrepreneurial qualities and helps organise mini-companies at schools, awareness-raising events and clubs for student entrepreneurs.

Responsible Entrepreneurship Award

Autopromozione Sociale is an inspiring project set up by the Municipality of Rome (Italy) to promote alternative economic activities. It has created a permanent space in the suburbs of Rome where 750 companies work in social and environmental areas such as fair trade, biodynamic agriculture, ethical finance, recycling, energy savings, responsible tourism and free software.

Jury’s Special Mentions

The Jury has highlighted two outstanding initiatives that bring together values and efforts which the European Enterprise Awards aim to encourage:

Municipality of Slovensky Grob, in Slovakia for its revival of the traditional dish of roast goose that has turned the town into a celebrated tourist destination creating jobs and preserving its heritage.

Rock City AB, Hultsfred, Sweden, a vibrant meeting place for creative entrepreneurship in music, media and tourism where 25 new companies have been created and products and businesses such as music associations, event and production companies are constantly emerging.

For more information on the winners, see Memo/06/465
For more information on the European Enterprise Awards, see:

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