Brussels, 31 January 2013
RegioStars 2013: Commission awards flagship projects
Innovative projects which will contribute to creating jobs for the future will tonight take centre stage as Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn presents the RegioStars 2013 Awards. With the President of the Jury, Luc Van den Brande, Commissioner Hahn will award prizes in five categories for projects from Portugal, the UK, Poland, Germany and Lithuania which demonstrate good practice in regional development.
Commissioner Hahn said: "EU investment must be channelled into projects that create real growth with real benefits for citizens, the environment and the economy. We need dynamic and innovative solutions to get Europe’s economy growing. This year's winners are model projects in business innovation, resource efficiency and social inclusion, all with the aim of improving the quality of citizens' lives. They are concrete examples of how we can put our broader European goals, as defined by our Europe 2020 strategy, into practice on the ground. They are driven by local commitment and creativity''
President of the Jury and former President of the Committee of the Regions, Luc Van den Brande added: "Choosing the winners from a field of so many outstanding entries required an intense debate. The jury, reflecting different areas of expertise, focused on regional projects that demonstrated impact and excellence in the EU2020 pathway: a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. They show a good example of how regions, no matter what their size or location, can learn from each other how to innovate in the broadest sense."
The annual RegioStars Awards are open to all EU regions to submit projects which have received investment through EU Regional Policy since 1st January 2000. In the last five years the greatest number of applications have been received from Austria, Belgium, the Baltic countries and Wales.
In this 6th edition of the Awards, the European Commission received 149 applications - the highest ever amount, of which 27 were chosen as finalists.
The five Award categories for 2013 were:
SMART GROWTH: Connecting universities to regional growth
SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Supporting resource efficiency in SMEs
INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Social innovation: creative responses to societal challenges
CITYSTAR: Integrated approaches to sustainable urban development
INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION: Promoting EU Regional policy with short videos
Tonight's ceremony will take place at the ‘Palais des Beaux-Arts’ in Brussels at 19:00.
“Smart Growth” - "UPTEC – Science & Technology Park, University of Porto" - Porto
The Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC) develops clusters, leveraging skills between academia and local business, in sectors of innovation potential in the local economy. The project is divided into four distinct poles - Technology, Creative Industries, Sea Technology and Biotechnology including two support structures for business - Incubators and Centres for Business Innovation. UPTEC has so far assisted 110 firms, including 95 start-ups, five large companies and five private innovation centres. The project has created some 800 graduate jobs, contributing to the robust economic growth in the region.
“Sustainable Growth” - "ENWORKS Resource Efficiency Support" - North West England
ENWORKS is an environmental support service for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the North West of England, offering training and advice in managing environmental risk, energy and water efficiency, improving waste management, and much more. The project runs a freely accessible Online Resource Efficiency Toolkit to help managers to understand, prioritise, track and assess their environmental improvements and savings. ENWORKS has so far helped North West SMEs to identify £79 (€95) million of annual cost savings through resource efficiency, £13 (€15) million of which have been implemented so far. These improvements have saved over 47 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, 413 000 m3 of water and 9 300 tonnes of materials. In addition, the environmental improvements have created or safeguarded over 960 jobs, and over £113 (€136) million worth of sales.
“Inclusive Growth” - "Individual Employment Paths" - Warmińsko-Mazurskie
Specifically targeted at the long-term unemployed in the 45+ age bracket, the ‘Individual Employment Paths’ project in Elblag, Poland took a personal and health-centred approach to job seeking and job retention. A professional job coach established a ‘personal development plan’ for a target group of long-term jobless - the majority of them women, including vocational training and psychological support. Almost 80 % of them went on to find a job. Thanks to continued support and intervention, 9/10 of them were in the same jobs some 15 months later. The project has led to an attitudinal shift in the city also, with 60 % of the employers involved saying they would be more interested in recruiting people aged 45 and over.
“CityStar” - "Neighbourhood Management Berlin" – Berlin
Neighbourhood Management Berlin (NMB) introduced governing councils in socially depressed districts of the German capital to strengthen the participation of local residents in decision-making on the selection and financing of projects to improve their quality of life. The councils work in cooperation with the city’s Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, debating the area’s strengths and problems and jointly finding solutions, or proposing projects to improve neighbourhood life. Integration of migrant groups is a key part of the work of the Councils, with some areas having up to 79 % of the population of a migrant background. The project is part of a long-term strategy of social integration in Berlin.
“Informing the public” – “Towards Work – development of mediation services in recruiting people with hearing disabilities”, Lithuania
‘Towards Work’ developed mediation services to support the recruitment of people with hearing disabilities in Lithuania. An initial awareness campaign was run on a number of TV channels with a series of video clips challenging the traditional attitudes of the hearing society towards the deaf. Specially trained recruitment agents worked in pilot job centres to help people with hearing disabilities to find a job. Two-thirds of those assisted were successfully employed as a result and ‘Towards Work’ was recognised as one of the most successful social integration projects in Lithuania.
For more information:
Video footage and portraits of the winning projects will be on EbS on 31st January
Shirin Wheeler (+32 2 29 66565), Mobile: +32 4607 66565
Annemarie Huber (+32 2 29 93310), Mobile: +32 4607 93310