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REGION OF THE WEEK:

Styria

Die Steiermark

08/05/2012

On the occasion of the celebration of Europe Day on 9 May, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, will be in the Austrian federal province of Styria. He will be making a speech there on regional partnerships in Europe in a conference entitled ‘Croatia – the 28th EU Member State’ organised by the Bundesrat (the upper house of the Austrian parliament) and the state parliament (Landtag) of Styria. The President of the Styrian Landtag, Mr Manfred Wegscheider, the President of the Bundesrat, Mr Gregor Hammerl, Dr Michael Spindelegger, the Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, and Dr Ivo Josipović, President of the Republic of Croatia, will also be attending.

In 2009, the per capita GDP of Styria, which borders on Slovenia, was 8% above the European Union average. The region has successfully managed to restructure its economy after the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s.

 

What are the region's priorities?

Styria is already well established as an innovation, research and business location, with the formation of networks and ‘clusters’. It is now time to secure and further develop the innovative potential of businesses, and in order to cope with this challenge, Styria has developed seven guidelines:

  • Innovation
  • Location strategy and internationalisation
  • Clusters, networks, fields of excellence
  • Autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Qualification of enterprises
  • Regions and infrastructure
  • Innovative financing

Based on these guidelines, Styria’s areas of strength should be developed further, be it in: the automotive or mobility sector, the creative economy, energy and environmental technology including renewables, the wood and timber industry, human and food technology, micro-and nanotechnology, telecommunications and materials science. In addition, environmental technologies, tourism and integrated spatial and urban development are to be promoted.

 

How has EU regional policy contributed?


The ‘Regional Competitiveness Styria’ programme, supported by the European Union in the 2007-2013 period, had allocated to it funds of EUR 155 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This represents approximately 10.61% of the total EU development funds invested in Austria within the framework of cohesion policy in the 2007-2013 period and the second largest single amount for Austria after Burgenland's programme.

The most important objective of the programme is to develop innovation and create growth jobs with the help of two priorities:

  • strengthening innovation and the knowledge-based economy (especially as regards small and medium-sized enterprises)
  • enhancing the attractiveness of the region (especially through projects connected with tourism, also urban development in Graz).
  • By now, 2150 projects have been implemented thanks to this programme. More than 1 000 jobs have been created and 17 000 jobs could be maintained.

    Styria is also linked with Slovenia in one of the EU-supported Cross-Border Cooperation Programmes (Volume € 67.1 million).

     

    Project examples



    • Science fit: ERDF contribution € 368 065

      In this project, Styrian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are given the opportunity to make use of the scientific know-how of Styrian research institutes. Specific opportunities for cooperation are identified, technical and scientific expertise is disseminated and research outcomes are systematically prepared for SMEs. This project is based on experience sharing between research institutes and SMEs and from the predecessor project Technofit Pro,which was also co-financed by the EU in the previous 2000-2006 programming period.

    • Zerspanungslabor Süd-und Weststeiermark: ERDF contribution € 160 638

      The Zerspanungslabor Süd- und Weststeiermark (the Machining Laboratory for South and West Styria) in Georgsberg is a user-oriented research and development centre in the manufacturing sector. It develops knowledge-based solutions for its customers in collaboration with universities and partner undertakings. As a platform between colleges and industry, the centre aims to put the latest research discoveries into practical business use for its customers. It is the first research-oriented, independent developmental researching and testing centre for machining technology.

    • Cooperation in the fields of trade and youth between the City of Graz und the municipality of Hausmannstätten:
      ERDF contribution € 189 900

      The City of Graz is a member of the URBAN PLUS joint programme, in which inter-communal cooperation between four municipalities in the southern environs of Graz and 16 neighbouring municipalities in all in the Graz neighbourhood area should be strengthened. The project content is about the first-time inter-communal cooperation in economic development between the City of Graz and the market town of Hausmannstätten. In particular, new jobs for young people should be created through the creation of a business environment, and cooperation in the commercial sector should be enhanced.

    • Glas packaging for the prestige und healthcare markets: ERDF contribution € 2 338 650

      The Stölzle Glass Group is the only provider in Europe to produce packaging glass for the prestige & beauty and for the healthcare & consumer market. The Group covers all relevant stages from development and production to decoration and fastening solutions. The product range includes packaging glass for pharmaceuticals, food and spirits, miniatures and jars and vials for perfumery and cosmetics. With this project, the focus is on investment in extensive measures for new production technologies as well as on the modification of the tank system in the amber glass sector.

     

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