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REGION OF THE WEEK:

Alsace

Alsace

27/04/2012

Alsace is a region in the north-east of mainland France. With a population of 1,851,443 in 2010 at a density of 223 inhabitants/km2; it is the third most densely populated region in France but also the smallest in terms of surface area. It has a strong and balanced urban infrastructure with three major cities; Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse.

Alsace forms an integral part of the Rhine area and is located in the heart of the corridor of prosperity stretching from London to Milan. This region is characterised by its openness to the outside world, with dynamic international business, major investments from abroad and collaborations with its neighbouring countries.

The region ranks in the leading group in regard to GDP per capita in France: in 2009, it was the 3rd highest region in France in this category and slightly above the average for the EU.

 

What are the region's priorities?

1. to support innovation in order to develop a regional economy for knowledge (31.1% of total investment). The aim of this priority is to structure and improve the capability for innovation within the region and by promoting interaction between public and private stakeholders. It also aims to generate more economic, innovative and competitive activities by:

  • developing the regional capability for innovation and collective actions with the aim of uncovering new ‘clusters’;
  • creating and disseminating knowledge from public and private sector research, through investments in structure and research and development programmes by public and private stakeholders;
  • consolidating inter-regional experience exchanges and partnerships.

2. improving the region’s appeal and economic competitiveness by developing a network of centres of expertise (around 32.8% of total investment). This involves new skills, particularly in the area of technology, but also quality human resources and the development of synergies between various stakeholders in order to:

  • create skilled and attractive areas of activity;
  • increase capacity for accommodating companies;
  • promote the creation and development of innovative activities in the areas targeted by the Europe 2020 strategies.

3. develop environmental potential (around 22.5% of total investment). In order to ensure the long-term future of Alsace’s natural heritage, it is important to:

  • develop a policy centred on energy efficiency;
  • encourage multimodality within the transport system;
  • monitor the preservation of biodiversity;
  • encourage the creation and development of eco-activities.

4. reinforce the appeal and cohesion of built-up areas (around 11.9% of total investment). The aim of this priority is to improve the appeal of urban areas in Alsace compared to elsewhere and to strengthen their cohesion and solidarity internally by putting in place original strategies for urban development and supporting the rejuvenation of rundown areas.

 

How has EU regional policy contributed?


The region benefits from a programme sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which represents a European investment of almost 76 million euros for the period 2007-2013. This programme forms part of the ‘regional competitiveness and employment’ objective and has a total budget of around 303 million euros. Alsace is the only region in France where the Conseil Régional, or regional council, is the governing authority (in the other regions the prefecture acts as governing authority and has the option of delegating overall grants to the regional council, general councils or other bodies).

The region is the principal authority responsible for the cross-border programme between France, Germany and Switzerland. During the 2007-2013 period, this programme will benefit from 67.2 million euros in ERDF credits for projects linking the three countries.

For the second year in succession, May 2012 will be ‘Europe Month in Alsace’ hosting a whole range of events relating to Europe on the theme of ‘My Europe is here’. This will bring together numerous educational, festive and symbolic initiatives right across the region.

 

Project examples



  • Development of diagnosis kits for Alzheimer’s disease:
  • 49, 331 euros ERDF contribution

    Based at the neurochemistry centre in Strasbourg, the company IHD (Innovative Health Diagnostics), founded in 2008, has developed diagnosis kits for Alzheimer’s disease. A diagnosis test for Alzheimer’s disease, based on a biochemical marker, would in the near future enable early detection of the illness, more effective monitoring of treatment and less delay in transferring the patient to hospital care. In the longer term, it might represent a vital screening tool for implementing a public health policy.

    The team at IHD developed two methods for diagnosis that are carried out on blood samples. These tests are quick, economical and minimally invasive. In terms of specificity and sensitivity, its performance is unrivalled among diagnosis methods developed to date. IHD’s aim is to adapt its initial tests for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease to routine analysis, with a market launch for the first diagnosis kits planned for 2013.

    The EU co-finances the project in relation to staff costs, an external service for industrialising the tests, packing materials and laboratory equipment.

  • Development of LIBS application for CRITT Matériaux Alsace (regional centre for innovation and technology transfer for materials) ERDF contribution 88,080 euros

    The CRITT Matériaux Alsace at Schiltigheim is dedicated to developing and characterising glass, mineral compounds and polymers. The aim of this research project is to develop an innovative technology enabling the elementary composition of a sample to be determined known as LIBS – Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy.

    The LIBS technology can be applied to all materials using just a small quantity. The sample does not need any preparation; analysis is carried out in real time and can be done remotely. The CRITT Matériaux Alsace wanted to acquire the LIBS technology and develop two applications for analysing glass in laboratories and factories and wall paints on restoration sites.

    The skills acquired provide the basis for new laboratory and on-site services enabling this technology to be transferred to industry for targeted and customised applications, such as for example polymer sorting for recycling and analysis on continuous production lines.

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  • Renovation of ‘Le Rhône’ social housing block to ‘low-energy building’ standards: ERDF contribution 105, 000 euros

    The ‘Le Rhône’ social housing block, 9 houses and a four-storey apartment building have been completely renovated. The new housing will exclusively consist of fully equipped studios. The aims of this project are to offer high-quality renovated housing within an urban setting, to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings significantly to 75 kW/m²/year, to adapt to the demographic trend of the clientele and be able to offer housing for the elderly and/or those who are less dependent, and to bring the buildings up to current standards. The project subscribes to the principles of sustainable development and energy efficiency and its co-financing relates primarily to draught proofing, external insulation, external PVC joinery and the production of solar-heated water.

  • Energivie: EFRE contribution 9 million euros during the 2007-2013 period.

    Energivie implements innovative strategies for sustainable development in the French region of Alsace. This project improves the visibility of renewable energies in Alsace, particularly for solar energy and wood-fuelled energy. Its aim is to encourage the population of Alsace to turn to renewable energies, to save energy wherever possible and to use renewable energies to stimulate the economy.

    In particular, it has authorised the installation of 1,000 individual solar hot water heaters and 10,000 m² of solar cells. Financial incentives have also been introduced to promote the use of renewable energies in the tourism and agriculture sectors. In addition, grants have been awarded to engineering and architecture students working on the use of renewable energies.

 

Further information