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European Commission - Press release

Commission reveals winners of "RegioStars Awards" celebrating Europe's most innovative regional projects

Brussels, 23 June 2011 - Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and the President of the RegioStars Jury Ann Mettler, executive director of the Brussels think thank Lisbon Council, will tonight announce the winners of the "RegioStars Awards" 2011. The prize giving ceremony recognises the most innovative projects that have been supported by European Regional Policy, creating hundreds of new jobs from the EU budget, which otherwise would not have been created. Madeira and the Azores in Portugal, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Northern Mid Sweden, Wales in the UK will be at centre stage. Municipalities in the Northern peripheral regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are also winners thanks to a territorial cooperation project.

Commissioner Hahn said: "Against the backdrop of turbulent economic times and Europe's ambitious strategy up to 2020, these exemplary projects give a positive signal. They show that our regions and cities are breeding grounds for innovative ideas. Good solutions to achieve European priorities for greater competitiveness and a low carbon economy do already exist on the ground. We just need to learn more about them."

President of the Jury Ann Mettler added: "We believe that the projects chosen as winners in their respective category are innovative, inspiring, and exemplary. They have the potential to serve as role models and good practices for other regions. And they demonstrate that EU funds have been put to good use – a fact that is of paramount importance in view of the intense negotiations to be expected over the next financial perspective 2013-20".

All EU regions were invited to submit projects which had received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) or the Cohesion Fund after 1 January 2000. 66 eligible applications were submitted from 18 Member States, out of which 31 projects were shortlisted by the jury. This year, six awards were on offer: two on the "economic competitiveness" theme, two for "low carbon economy" and two awards for information and communication.

Tonight's ceremony will take place at the Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar) in Brussels. It takes part of the annual 'Regions for Economic Change' conference providing an opportunity for politicians and practitioners from Europe's regions to discuss key themes around European cohesion policy and showcase projects funded by EU regional funds.

Background

The winners:

Economic competitiveness themes

Category 1. Networking and cluster initiatives supporting regional growth and Small- and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) access to global markets

Growth in Environmental Marine Science, Wales, UK (€1,31 million in EU funding from the ERDF)

The project aims to support marine and aquatic science businesses in Wales. Although the project is still in the early stages of delivery, achievements to date are strong with 92 SMEs assisted, 4 new businesses created, 20 new jobs created and 60 individuals assisted to start new businesses.

Category 2. Anticipating economic change

SLIM (System Management for Innovative Platforms), Northern Mid Sweden (€1,30 million in EU funding from the ERDF)

This project linked cluster organisations and companies, universities and regional authorities in three regions (Dalarna, Gävleborg and Värmland) to stimulate innovation, regional growth and development.

Low carbon economy themes

Category 3 "CityStar" . Promoting sustainable energy in cities

Amsterdam Smart City, Netherlands (1,56 million in EU funding from ERDF)

The City of Amsterdam, acting in line with the EU’s 20-20-20 climate targets, has set itself even more ambitious goals: With the programme ‘Amsterdam, Smart City’, it has shown how to make all municipal organisations climate-impact neutral before 2015 and to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by the year 2025 while promoting innovation-based economic growth.

Category 4 "CityStar". Integrated, clean urban transport projects

Innovative and sustainable mobility in Funchal (CIVITAS MIMOSA), Madeira, Portugal (€2,01 million in EU funding from the ERDF)

The city of Funchal is characterised by rugged, hilly landscapes, resulting in the high wear-and-tear of bus engines, as well as low energy efficiency, increased polluting emissions and noise. The aims of this project were to increase the total number of passengers on public transport, improve user satisfaction, increase transport efficiency and also promote a shift towards alternative transport modes.

Information and communication theme

Category 5. Promotional photo of a co-funded project

Chosen by an online public vote:

Capelinhos Lighthouse, Azores, Portugal (3,37 million in EU funding from ERDF)

The winning photo was used to promote the ‘Redevelopment of Capelinhos Lighthouse – Interpretation Centre’ project. It shows the interior of the lighthouse, which is located near the Capelinhos Volcano. The project aimed to develop the site as an historical, environmental and sustainable tourist attraction.

Chosen by the Jury:

Age makes no Difference, Partners: Northern municipalities in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands (438.000 in EU funding from Northern Periphery Transnational Co-operation Programme and from ERDF )

The photo was used to promote the project "Our Life as Elderly II", which is part of a European territorial programme "Northern periphery". It aimed to prepare municipalities in the northern peripheral regions of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, to better cope with the challenges of an ageing population.

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/cooperation/interregional/ecochange/regiostars_en.cfm?nmenu=4

Contact :

Ton Van Lierop (+32 2 296 65 65)

Marie-Pierre Jouglain (+32 2 298 44 49)


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