Brussels, 25 February 2008
Tonight, Alsace, Øresund, Wales, the West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber take centre stage in Europe as winners of the first RegioStars Awards for innovative regional projects. Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, and Mr Pasqual Maragall i Mira, former President of Catalonia and President of the Jury, will award prizes for projects promoting sustainable development and knowledge-based regional economies. The awards take place during a two-day conference in Brussels entitled: 'Regions for Economic Change - Sharing excellence'.
'It is a great pleasure to present prizes to the local and regional players responsible for the projects selected as finalists for this first round of RegioStars awards. They are the living proof that regions supporting innovative approaches are the real catalysts for development. They are the ones who make EU regional policy investment work for people on the ground,' Commissioner Hübner said.
Mr Pasqual Maragall i Mira added: "Europe's success comes from its regional and local levels. I am particularly pleased to see that regions from all over the EU have taken part in these awards – proud of their success, and glad to share their new know-how all over Europe and beyond.'
All 268 EU regions were invited to submit projects co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the period 2000-2006. In total, 71 eligible applications were submitted by 18 Member States, out of which 26 were short-listed by an independent Jury of European experts.
The award ceremony will take place on the evening of 25 February. Five projects will be awarded under three categories as follow:
Category : Energy efficiency and renewable energies:
This regional programme encourages the demand for equipment related to renewable energies. It involves upgrading the skills of professionals in the solar power, wood-energy and construction sectors, as well as experiments to support low energy consumption buildings. Studies on bio-fuels, bio-gas, and geothermal energy are also carried out.
Category: Supporting clusters and business networks:
The project is a cross-border partnership between Sweden and Denmark. Six innovative platforms bring together regional authorities, businesses and 14 universities from both sides of the border, working on food, logistics, environment, IT, health and design.
Opto-electronics is an innovative combination of optical and electronic technology. Applications include fibre optic communications, DVD/CD optical storage, phone and computer displays, laser printers and digital cameras. Optic Technium is an incubation centre which offers access to a business centre and a technology centre for start-ups in opto-electronics.
Category: Technology transfer from research institutes to small and medium enterprises (SMEs):
This network of universities helps the region’s SMEs to develop technology, and to address environment-related issues. These can range from monitoring and reducing emissions, to developing biodegradable packaging. Businesses have access to experts at the region's universities.
This network of Centres of Industrial Collaboration was established to help businesses harness the innovation and cutting-edge expertise in the universities of Yorkshire and Humber. It encourages industrial innovation, research and development in the region.
Two other projects received special mentions from the RegioStars 2008 Jury:
This project developed a floating platform that uses energy provided from renewable sources, and produces drinking water for the islands.
This project piloted a scheme to encourage SMEs to employ recent graduates to strengthen their technological and innovation competence.
Winners will be presented with crystal trophies featuring a laser-engraved
star, and commemorative certificates. Winning regions' projects will feature in
actions to demonstrate best practice to inspire other regions.
For more on the conference “Regions for Economic Change - Sharing excellence”: see IP/08/281.