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Brussels, 13th May 2009

Promoting entrepreneurs means creating jobs

The European Enterprise Awards were launched three years ago to recognise and reward initiatives that support entrepreneurship at regional level. More than 350 national, regional and local authorities – including towns, cities and regions as well as public-private partnerships – competed in the 2008/2009 European Enterprise Awards. Participating countries – EU Member States and Norway – could select up to two candidates for the European competition. 13 were shortlisted for the awards in Prague. It is the Scarborough Renaissance Partnership, which has received the Grand Jury’s Prize for its pioneering enterprise and cultural renaissance work in the seaside town of Scarborough in north-east England. The project was selected for its impressive results in brining down seasonal unemployment. Five other initiatives from local authorities in Finland, Germany, Hungary, Spain and Sweden received award. The event was the final highlight of the First European SME Week, the European Commission's pan-European campaign to promote entrepreneurship in Europe and was organized in close cooperation with the Czech EU Presidency and the Committee of the Regions.

Prizes were presented by European Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, who said: “I am impressed how many initiatives have been created to make life easier for SMEs. Today's winner, the Scarborough Renaissance Partnership, demonstrates that promoting SMEs is in the benefit of our societies and can bring unemployment down. I invite all to share best practices. Our vision to be a world class space for SMEs can become true if we follow the examples of our today's winners.”

Luc Van den Brande, President of the Committee of the Regions, said: "These awards are important, because they highlight the importance of local and regional authorities in encouraging entrepreneurship throughout the European Union. Through their local and regional policies, public authorities can help create the right conditions for entrepreneurship to flourish. I welcome the opportunity that these awards bring to acknowledge the key role that regions and cities play in creating jobs and developing growth."

The six 2009 European Enterprise Awards winners are:

Grand Jury’s Prize

Scarborough Renaissance Partnership (UK) has transformed a seasonal economy with unemployment in the winter 50% higher than in the summer into a more balanced year-round entrepreneurial climate offering increased employment prospects, particular through the development of a business park and state-of-the-art centre for creative and cultural industries.

Entrepreneurship Promotion

Instituto IDEAS (Spain) - a university-based enterprise-support programme has helped establish 400 innovative companies and enabled the creation of 4 000 jobs in the Valencia Region over the past 15 years.

Red Tape Reduction

ANTI-BUREAU (Hungary) – a company created by the Hungarian city of Miskolc to eliminate bureaucracy and cut costs in the management of local government services by combining and rationalising a wide range of services from heating, sewage and water, to refuse treatment, and even public transport and parking.

Enterprise Support

Gothia Science Park (Sweden) - an incubator, technology park and collaboration platform for IT companies with particular success in computer gaming development has created 50 businesses with 300 employees and helped in the diversification of a region previously heavily dependent on two large automotive engineering plants.

Investment in Skills

The Women's Enterprise Agency (Finland) – expert mentoring programme that encourages women to become entrepreneurs by one-to-one and group mentoring to new and growing SMEs.

Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

The Waldkirch Employment and Qualification Company -WABE (Germany) - a non-profit organisation involving a local network of citizens, private companies and government authorities that has helped 300 unemployed people with special placement problems find jobs in local businesses.

Finally, the Jury's special mention goes to the project:

"Our Power Spot," Bieliny, Poland - its unique tourism experience with field games using the region's folklore.

The European Enterprise Awards were launched three years ago to recognise and reward initiatives that support entrepreneurship at regional level.

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