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Brussels,16 February 2009

"RegioStars Awards" for Europe's most innovative regional projects

Tonight Wallonia, Wales, Réunion Island, North Rhine-Westphalia and Greece take centre stage in Europe as winners of the 2009 RegioStars Awards. Danuta Hübner, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and the President of the RegioStars Jury, Mr Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam, will award prizes to the most innovative projects which have been supported by European Cohesion Policy. The Awards take place during a two-day conference in Brussels entitled “Regions for Economic Change – Networking for Results” (IP/09/259).

"Stimulating Europe's competitiveness and employment, particularly in this difficult economic climate, calls for new ideas and progressive thinking. The innovative projects under the spotlight today, provide a clear demonstration of how Cohesion Policy can make a difference and provide inspiration to other European regions," Commissioner Hübner said.

On his experience as President of the Jury, Mr Job Cohen, Mayor of Amsterdam said "Not everybody in Europe is aware that the EU invests in thousands of projects in areas as varied as health, innovation and sustainability. These projects do not only enhance living and working conditions for those who benefit from them, but they also create networks throughout Europe which facilitate the exchange of experience. That makes Europe stronger and better. So it is only right the best projects get the attention they deserve. And that is just what the RegioStars are helping to do!"

The RegioStars Awards ceremony will take place tonight at the Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar) in Brussels. All 271 regions of the European Union were invited to submit projects co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the period 2000-2006. Eligible applications were submitted from 18 Member States, out of which 25 projects were shortlisted by the Jury.

The winners:

Five projects will be awarded in three main categories:

Category 1: Research, Technological Development and Innovation

DIPLE Printing Technologies from Wales, UK
The printing industry plays an important role in the Welsh economy. The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) in Swansea undertook a project entitled DIPLE, the main aim of which was to develop case studies, undertake research on innovative uses of printing and transfer this knowledge to industry, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

•Cenaero Recherches from Hainaut, Belgium

This centre of excellence in aeronautical research has played an important role in Wallonia's economic development. The centre bases its success upon a well-developed cooperation between universities and industry, and is a recognised leader in Europe in the field of numerical simulation, in particular for aerospace applications.

Category 2: Adaptation to or mitigation of climate change

Centrale de production d'électricité photovoltaïque en milieu tropical, Ile de la Réunion, France This station produces photovoltaic electricity from panels located on three buildings connected to one transformer. In adapting techniques in a tropical environment, it has helped the island towards self-sufficiency in electricity production, and created local employment.

• EnergyAgency.NRW, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

In times of volatile energy prices and supply, it is vitally important to develop innovative energy technologies and provide impartial guidance to companies, local authorities and individual citizens on sound energy management and renewable energies. This is the role of EnergyAgency.NRW, the new central contact point in Düsseldorf for all energy issues in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Category 3: Audiovisual spot or programme highlighting the contribution of Cohesion Policy

"Do you know about ESPA?", Greece The spot entitled "Do you know about ... ESPA?" was conceived by the Greek Ministry of Economy and broadcast on main Greek public TV channels. In the spot, the famous actor Thodoris Atheridis explains the meaning of "ESPA" which is the "National Strategic Reference Framework" defining the priorities of Cohesion policy in Greece.

Two other projects received special mentions from the RegioStars 2009 Jury:

• ROADEX – Interreg project, Lead partner Västerbotten, Sweden

This project involves trans-national collaboration between Sweden, Finland, Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Greenland. The ROADEX network focuses on research on a wide range of issues affecting rural roads (roads engineering, health, environmental issues etc.). This has led to the development of a range of new technologies and practices that address the particular needs of northern regions and their users.

SpaceInnovation SAAR, Saarland, Germany

Although Saarland is not a traditional "space region", it has developed a particular know-how which is useful for the space industry. In harnessing its expertise in nanotechnologies, IT, automotive, and biomedical technologies through this project, innovative industries, SMEs, research institutes in Saarland have became partners of the European Space Agency.

Note for editors

The winners' prizes consist of crystal trophies representing a star as well a project video (for categories 1 and 2) which may be used by the region and project holders in promoting their project. Information on all the finalists, eligibility criteria, members of the Jury can be found on the following website:

2009 is also the "European Year of Creativity and Innovation":

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