The objective of the RegioStars Awards is to identify good practices in regional development and to highlight original and innovative projects which could be attractive and inspiring to other regions.
RegioStars Awards 2015: Jury selects 17 finalists as Europe's most outstanding regional projects
The European Commission announced today the finalists for the RegioStars 2015 awards which honour Europe's most inspirational and innovative regional projects supported by EU Cohesion Policy Funds. An independent RegioStars Awards Jury, led by MEP Lambert Van Nistelrooij as Jury President, selected 17 finalists from 143 entries on the basis of four key criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership.
Commenting on the selection, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said, "I congratulate all finalists, as those projects selected by the Jury serve as best practices examples for other regions and cities of the kind of investments we want to see more in the future. This year's finalists are model projects in SME growth, energy efficiency, social inclusion, and urban development, all with the aim of improving the quality of life of their citizens. Being a finalist for the RegioStars Awards is not only a quality label designating a great project, it is also international recognition for regions and cities for their innovative and creative approaches in the use of EU funds."
The finalists come from regions and cities in 15 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The four Award categories for 2015 are:
- Smart Growth – unleashing SME growth potential for a digital economy
- Sustainable Growth – mobilising investmentsin energy efficiency for the benefit of citizens and society
- Inclusive Growth – Integrating into society those at risk of social exclusion
- CityStars – Transforming cities for future challenges
The four winners will be announced during the 2015 OPEN DAYS event in Brussels from 12 to 15 October 2015. Commissioner Corina Creţu and MEP Lambert van Nistelrooij will hand out the trophies and certificates to the winning projects during the RegioStars 2015 Awards Ceremony on 13 October at the "BOZAR" in Brussels. Project beneficiaries will also be available to speak to journalists before and after the ceremony.
The previous 2014 RegioStars Awards honoured flagship projects in Paredes (North Portugal), Cornwall (UK), West Wales and the Valleys (UK) and the Polish region of Gdynia. The categories focused on SME innovation, bio-economy, creating jobs for the younger generation and sustainable urban public transport.
Today marks the launch of the RegioStars Awards 2015 by the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy.
As in previous years, this edition of the RegioStars Awards will be putting the spotlight on the most inspiring and innovative European projects co-funded by the EU's Cohesion policy.
After being selected by an independent jury, project managers and representatives of the Managing Authorities of finalist projects will be invited to attend the RegioStars 2015 Awards Ceremony, which will take place during the 2015 Week of European Regions and Cities (OPEN DAYS).
A trophy and a "RegioStars Winner certificate" will be presented to the winning projects by EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Corina Creţu and the President of the RegioStars Awards jury. A short video is also produced on each winning project, which can be used for promotional purposes.
Application forms can be filled in English, French or German. Applications should be sent by 15 March 2015 by the regional or local Managing Authority, or with the endorsement of this Managing Authority. The selected finalists will be informed by the end of May 2015. The Award ceremony itself will take place in Brussels during the OPEN DAYS on 13 October 2015.
If you have any other questions contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Award Categories for 2015 are:
- SMART GROWTH: Unleashing SME growth potential for a digital economy
- SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Mobilizing investments in energy efficiency for the benefit of citizens and society
- INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Integrating in society those at risk of social exclusion
- CITYSTAR: Transforming cities for future challenges
The RegioStars Awards Jury has announced the finalists for the RegioStars 2015 awards which honour Europe's most inspirational and innovative regional projects. The RegioStars Awards Jury singled out 17 finalists from 143 projects supported by EU cohesion policy funds on the basis of four key criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnership.
The finalists come from regions and cities in 15 Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Category 1 - SMART GROWTH: Unleashing SME growth potential for a digital economy
1. Digital Tourism (Wales, UK)
The Digital Tourism Business Framework (DTBF) Programme is an ERDF supported project delivered by Visit Wales. The programme’s vision is “to move Wales’ tourism from relative e-business immaturity firmly into the digital business age” by ensuring that the tourism sector in Wales becomes more conversant in the use of ICT for business promotion, and can provide a better experience for the visitor.
40 new tourism products have been developed, including exemplary projects such as the ShareWales website, extensive digital technology interpretation project at Llanelly House and the development of fully engaging and immersive e-digital trails for Llandudno which other Welsh Towns can use as guidance for the development of future innovative products.
The project assisted a total of 738 enterprises in ICT diagnostics, with 79% of recipients reporting business improvement and/or growth. The project provided financial support to 45 enterprises and created 54 jobs. As a result of the project, 2010 new or improved products, processes or services were launched by January 2015. Website traffic of the ‘Visit Wales’ site grew dramatically with the new site attracting almost 3.5m views in 2013-14, against 1.6m for 2010-11, resulting in increased visitor awareness of Wales, increased visitor numbers and stay and an enhanced visitor experience.
Website - Digital Tourism Project
2. Agripir (Euskadi and Cataluña, ES - Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine, FR)
In a context of globalization and market segmentation, the Pyrenean agricultural sectors need to develop new strategies to remain competitive. Agripir helped unite different actors on both sides of the border in the Pyrenees mountains around a common theme: how to upgrade mountain farming through innovation and the use of new technologies.
Agripir established a network of Spanish and French actors from the agricultural sector, public research sector, innovative enterprises and territorial development actors in order to establish innovation projects at the service of mountain farming.
The achievements of the project include the establishment of a network of 150 member organisations, consisting of 300 representatives, the organisation of regular seminars (workshops of reflection and events) and the creation and implementation of 5 innovation projects to address the problematic areas of mountain farming using new technologies.
Website for CBC project - Agripir
3. Development of Torun Technology Park (Kuyavian-Pomzeranian Region, PL)
The project ‘Development of Torun Technology Park’ focuses on unlocking the IT potential of entrepreneurs and builds on the results of a PHARE project from the period 2002 to 2004. It is based on two main pillars: the secure and modern Exea Data Centre and the Exea Smart Space - an innovative area with smart infrastructure for the needs of ICT start-ups.
The project aims to establish favourable conditions for the development of innovative companies through increasing access to advanced IT services and new technology space. It is also active in, know-how transfer, enable commercialization, implementation and dissemination of innovative products and services in the IT sector, disseminating knowledge related to IT services, create a technology incubator to decrease the barriers for market entry for innovative ICT companies and provide business development services for innovative ICT companies.
In total, 90 entrepreneurs have used the equipment and infrastructure of Torun Technology Park and 60 advisory services have been addressed to entrepreneurs. 6 new companies and 130 workplaces have been created.
After 12 months of project activity there are 35 startups working in Exea Smart Space and 35 events have been organised with 2000 participants. Mentoring addressed to start-ups has taken place for a total of 76 hours, and 1 acceleration programme has been implemented.
Website - Torun Technology Park
4. Scandinavian Game Developers (DK)
The overall aim of Scandinavian Game Developers has been to ensure that entrepreneurs in the Scandinavian gaming industry can establish viable companies and survive in a highly competitive business environment.
When the project started, the gaming industry needed new business models. The project’s Swedish partner, the University of Skövde, designed a business model for entertainment and educational games – and business coaches, who counselled the young startups in the 2 project incubators, ensured the mainstreaming of the new model.
The project established 22 new small companies which now employ 67 persons, and just recently one of these companies attracted an external investment of around € 270.000 (or 2 million DKK). All the new companies have stated that the incubators have been vital to the survival of their companies, and that they will continue to develop their companies in the incubators which they see as very dynamic and inspiring environments.
Apart from the business models and trainings, the project has produced and disseminated a number of magazines on how to create and run companies in the games industry and has created a database on Scandinavian competences within the gaming industry which resulted in 78 cross border meetings, conferences, and workshops with a total of 1793 participants.
Website - Scandinavian Game Developers
Category 2 - SUSTAINABLE GROWTH: Mobilizing investments in energy efficiency for the benefit of citizens and society
1. MILD HOME (Burgenland, AT - Yugozapaden, BG - Kozep-Dunantul, HU - Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, IT - Thessalia, GR - Vest, RO - Belgrade, SRB)
The ‘MILD HOME’ project approach is twofold: strengthening the demand side and provoking the supply side to respond to user attitude and regulation changes promoting energy efficient solutions in construction.
Contests organised by the project provoked the interest of architects, engineers and university graduates. Designers came up with 106 plan ideas for near-zero energy residential buildings that could be constructed from locally available materials and respected the ‘mild home’ concept and performance criteria. All plans highlighted resource efficient building techniques and locally available skills, which would make the ‘mild homes’ affordable both in acquisition price and operational costs.
Another important part of the Mild Home project was supporting the creation of local supply chains for building energy efficient structures. Project partners organised a series of trainings for architects, urban planners, engineers, real estate agents and ecologists involving more than 171 professionals. In addition, 87 local businesses participated in educational meetings with project partners. A transnational supplier database of 314 companies and 824 products was created.
By the end of the project, partner regions had initiated policies and/or investment processes to promote and develop 5 Eco Green Villages embodying the ‘mild home’ concept.
Website - Mild Home
2. PICSA (Andalucia, ES)
The Sustainable Construction Programme, in Andalusia, Spain, seeks through energy saving and renewable energy to promote the energy refurbishment of buildings, rehabilitate urban areas, improve the competitiveness of companies of the construction sector, create skilled employment and reduce energy poverty.
The Programme consists of three main actions:
- An incentive scheme of 116 million EUR and 48 possible actions to facilitate the energy refurbishment of existing buildings.
- Implementation of a financing line, specifically through revolving funds for companies.
- 3) Creation of the “Sustainable Construction Roundtable” involving more than 70 experts from different disciplines.
Quantitatively, the outputs that have resulted from the incentive scheme include 24.562 actions (60.000 citizens, 600 neighbourhood communities and 2.500 companies), 170 million euros invested, and 7.663 collaborating companies. 80.000 new jobs are expected to be generated in the next 5 years.
The project has also achieved 26.000 toe/year of energy saved and/or diversified and 62.000 tons of CO2 avoided, created 14.000 direct jobs in the implementation and management of the actions, resulted in economic saving of more than 210 million euros in companies, citizens, neighbourhood communities and other entities.
Website - PICSA
3. London Green Fund (UK)
The London Green Fund (LGF) is a 170 million EUR ‘financial instrument’ which uses EU and other public funds to attract private capital and boost investments in low carbon infrastructure projects in London.
The key objectives are to reduce CO2 emission in London as well as the waste going to landfill and to boost the market for investing in the environmental sector by providing the finance to de-risk environmental projects.
The LGF allocates funding to three commercially-managed Urban Development Funds (UDFs) which, in turn, provide loan and equity finance to waste management, energy efficiency and decentralised energy projects. The three UDFs are independently managed by professional fund managers, and make repayable investments in low carbon infrastructure projects.
Construction works on LGF projects are at different stages – some completed; others midway or just about to start. Together they should achieve annual savings of 218,084 tonnes of CO2, 330,980 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill and annual energy savings of 34,700,000 kWh.
The initial 170 million EUR is almost fully committed to projects. The total value of projects supported is over 1 billion EUR; every 1 EUR of ERDF has leveraged twelve times that sum. The project is not only able to achieve economic development benefits for London but also generate a financial return (forecast at over 200 million EUR) that will be used to finance similar activities as of 2016.
Website - London Green Fund
Category 3 - INCLUSIVE GROWTH: Integrating in society those at risk of social exclusion
1. Working chance (Prague, Central Bohemia, Usti, CZ)
The main aim of the project ‘Working Chance for ex-offenders’ is re-integrating ex-offenders into society and into the labour market.
Within the 21 months of realization of the project, the competitive ability of its clients on the labour market increased, and several employers were convinced that employing ex-offenders is not only “doing a good deed” but a good investment too.
The non-commercial Recruitment Agency RUBIKON focuses on both the clients and potential employers as it is necessary to work not only with the clients (ex-offenders) but also with the environment.
Communication and cooperation with employers is central to the activities of the agency. Cooperation with the state administration (especially the Probation and Mediation Service and the Employment Agency of the Czech Republic), and with the NGO sector was also established.
In 2014, on the level of whole organisation, RUBIKON Centre worked with 140 employers and 700 ex-offenders, from which a third found a job through the programme. Of those who were employed, almost 80 % continue to work for the same employer after expiration of the initial trial period.
Website - Working chance
2. Burgas' family type centres (Southeast, BG)
Before the project a significant proportion of children and youth with disabilities were accommodated in institutions, which increases their isolation and further stimulated physical and mental deficits.
All premises have been furnished and equipped to ensure that the centres can function as a substitute for family homes.
Each Centre consists of several types of indoor premises, various thematic zones, ‘game centres’ to enable children to spend their free time indoors if needed, rooms accommodating the children and a fully equipped kitchen and bathrooms.
Various areas are organised in the courtyards of the buildings including a playground for use by children with disabilities, a recreation area, a zone for themed games, and a vegetable and flower garden.
The project marks the beginning of the process of deinstitutionalization in the region. Care for children within these types of social centres is still an innovative approach for Bulgaria, as the process of decentralization of social services is not yet finished.
Website - Burgas' family type centres
3. Fit for Work (Wales, UK)
The aim of Fit for Work North Wales was to provide a co-ordinated, early intervention service to support employees on long term sickness absence. This intervention should enable them to return to work earlier than they otherwise would.
An early return to work has clear benefits for both employee and employer, protecting individuals against financial hardship and improving well-being, while increasing overall business productivity.
The project employed a holistic, client-centred, case-managed approach, using a team of dedicated case managers to coordinate tailored packages of individualised support including advice, guidance, employer mediation and access to a range of physiological and psychological interventions. A partnership approach to the support of clients was developed, with case managers, family doctors, therapists and other service providers working in partnership to tailor services to meet individual needs, maintaining a clear focus on return to work.
The service was originally profiled to support 989 participants over 2 years. By the end of the project, the service had provided support for a total of 1611 employees with work-limiting health conditions. This was achieved within the original spend profile by making efficiency savings and offering exceptional value for money.
Website - Fit for Work
4. Momentum (IE)
The project focused on building motivation and self-confidence of Long Term Unemployed person (LTUs), providing training in growing sectors with a demand for employees, arranging work placements immediately following the classroom training phase and supporting them for six months after the formal course had finished. Placements focused mainly on small indigenous businesses where potential employers were in direct contact with the client on a daily basis.
A total of 3,532 long-term unemployed people finished a Momentum Programme training course by mid December 2014. Of these, there was a positive outcome for 1,333 individuals. Full-time employment was achieved by 24% of finishers and a further 6% achieved part-time employment. Progression to further education was achieved by 8% of the finishers.
Website - Momentum
5. Diritti a scuola (Puglia, IT)
The key objective of the project is to promote social inclusion and growth, reduction of school dropout rates and ensuring higher employability. It consisted of several types of interventions, not only strengthening learning processes, but also addressing economic, psychological, cultural and social disadvantages that contribute to early school leaving.
The project provided counselling, educational and vocational guidance and intercultural mediation, benefiting both students and their families, through a cultural mediator, psychological counselor and a help- desk. These tools aim to compensate learning deficiencies and create more inclusive school environments, responding also to the needs of disadvantaged and disabled students.
The project has recorded significant improvements. For example, the percentage of 15 year old students with limited reading capacities was reduced to 16.7% in 2012. At the same time, the dropout rate decreased from 30.3% in 2003 to 19.9% in 2013.
The project also stimulated students’ motivation, which is the basis for strengthening basic skills and for changing their attitude towards school attendance in general. In total, over 50,000 students (about 30% of the population of the schools involved) and 10,000 families benefited from the help-desk aimed at improving access to employment and vocational training.
Website - Diritti
Category 4 - CityStar
Företagsamma (VästraGötaland, SE)
Företagsamma Västra Hisingen (Entrepreneurial West Hisingen) is a project aimed at boosting entrepreneurship with young people, immigrants and women. The project is divided into three parts: ‘entrepreneurship in education’, ‘start your business’ and ‘develop your business’.
The first part took place in public schools and focused on students between 6 and 16 years, developing their entrepreneurial competences, creativity, decision making, responsibility and team working skills. The project ‘Vacation entrepreneurs’ (ferieentreprenörer) focused on 14 and 15-year old pupils, giving them the opportunity to create their own small company during summer.
In total 3500 pupils participated in the entrepreneurship activities.
A second part consisted out of initiatives boosting entrepreneurship amongst immigrants and women. A start-up course for new arrivals and networks for female entrepreneurs and business women were offered in different languages such as Farsi, English, Arabic, Somali, Serbian and Swedish.
Finally, a development programme for young businesses was created, focusing on training in areas such as online marketing, sales and trade, business negotiations and branding.
1116 new businesses were formed during the project period, 100 new companies emerged from the start-up talks and 4500 persons visited the incubator/meeting space.
Website - Företagsamma
IMAGINE (Franche-Comte, FR)
IMAGINE Low Energy Cities aimed to develop local Energy Roadmaps 2050 in 8 European pilot cities, based on a shared vision of the energy future of each of them, with active and transparent citizen and stakeholder involvement. In total, those roadmaps affect around 2.450.000 European citizens living in the 8 cities.
The project focused on dialogue and engagement processes as well as on communication between local stakeholders and local authorities.
Various fora and events were organised to enable exchange of experience and best practices for sustainable cities. Local authorities built local partnerships, set up discussion groups and alliances.
The project also produced a publication targeted at local authorities, the “Low-Energy City Policy Handbook”.
Additionally, cities used social media, websites and blogs, online surveys, competitions, stakeholder alliances, trainings, to communicate about the initiative.
Website - Imagine
Torrent dels Maduixers (Catalonia, ES)
The ‘Torrent dels Maduixers’ project has provided the city of Barcelona with a high value strategic municipal infrastructure for the management of Urban Solid Waste (USW) collected from the streets.
The physical infrastructure of the project is the building which is sunk underground and comprises two floors with a total surface area of 2,400 m². The lower floor exists out of areas for transferring and compacting of waste, storing containers, parking for electric vehicles as well as geothermal equipment and offices. The upper floor includes the control room for online data transmission, storage room, and classrooms. The physical infrastructure also comprises a green roof (3,000 m²) designed as an urban park
The project integrates several innovative components, such as saving energy through geothermal air conditioning and hot water, saving water by using groundwater and improving service efficiency through the functional design of the interior of the building.
In absolute terms, the project has resulted in savings of 18.300 kWh/year from the energy efficiency of the building and water savings of 1.515 m³/year resulting from an improvement in the management of drinking water.
Website - Torrent dels Maduixers
Eurocity of Chaves-Verín (Galicia, ES - North Portugal, PT)
The Eurocity of Chaves-Verín is a cross-border conurbation located on the border between North Portugal and the Autonomous Spanish Community of Galicia, formed by the cities of Chaves (42 000 inhabitants) and Verín (15 000 inhabitants).
The key objectives were to provide Eurocity with a structure that ensures efficient cooperation, involve citizens to encourage coexistence, create euro citizenship, boost the economy and sustainable development of the territory.
Both cities worked together on a wide range of projects, such as offering of joint services and joint municipality facilities, a cross-border office for youth, joint cultural events, commerce, sports, leisure, tourism and promotion of entrepreneurship.
In total, 3,500 people participated in youth exchanges and 40,000 people in sports, extracurricular and cultural events. About 50 cross-border micro-initiatives were supported. The success of the project has inspired the establishment of new Eurocities along the Portuguese-Spanish border.
The project has demonstrated that institutional, economic, social, cultural and environmental integration of two cities is possible across borders.
Website - Eurocity of Chaves-Verin
Implement (Central Region, DK - Region VästraGøtaland, SE - Østfold Fylkeskommun, NO)
The Implement project aimed to accelerate and increase the production and use of biogas for transport and heating purposes in the ØKS Region. The objective was to demonstrate through concrete activities that biogas could be part of the solution when it comes to creating a green economy and battling climate change.
During the project period Implement has contributed to an increase in growth and new business in the order of 20.000.000 EUR and has led to job creation across Scandinavia in an emerging sector with great potential.
Some results from the Implement project were the facilitation of a private sustainable investment in a biogas plant, which could supply the municipality of Skive with biogas for transport usage, the use of a Biogas ferry to Samsoe Municipality (DK),investment in increased biogas production in Lemvig Municipality (DK), introduction of 100 new busses on biogas in Østfold Municipality (N), Denmark’s first public biogas filling station and 50 new cars and busses fuelled by biogas in Skive (DK), The establishment of Biogas Brålanda (S) and a reduction of 15.000 tonnes of CO2 emission per year.
Website - Implement