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EU RegioStars Awards: Welsh project scoops top honour for the third time
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Cardiff, 23 June 2011

A project from Wales has been recognised at the prestigious 2011 RegioStars Awards. The Growth in Environmental Marine Science project saw off other contenders to win in the category “Networking and Cluster Initiatives Supporting Regional Growth and SMEs’ Access to Global Markets”.  Wales is the first region to have won this European award three times having previously won on 2008 and 2009.

The European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, presented the award to the project at the Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar) in Brussels on 23 June. The award ceremony recognised the 31 finalists supported by European Cohesion Policy and the six winners chosen by an independent multi disciplinary jury in the specific categories for 2011. The ceremony took place within the context of a two-day conference in Brussels on 23 and 24 June 2011, entitled “Regions for Economic Change – Fostering Smart and Sustainable Growth in Cities and Regions”.

The Life Aquatic: strong and sustainable economic growth

The Growth in Environmental Marine Science project supports marine and aquatic science businesses in Wales, helping them to win global business, and encourage Welsh graduates to start up enterprises in this sector. The project contributed to the creation of strong and sustainable economic growth in Wales through increasing employment, stimulating business growth and supply chain activity.

The project resulted from work done for the Welsh Assembly Government that identified the growth potential of this sector in a very rural area. The region has higher than average unemployment levels in the UK, a low number of quality jobs and high economic inactivity.

The project is working to enhance global business opportunities for new and existing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the field of marine and aquatic science. This is done by drawing on the diversity of their collective scientific skills sets to make the cluster greater than the sum of its parts. 

The project's achievements to date are strong with 92 SMEs assisted, four new businesses created, 20 new jobs created, 42 businesses adopting an environmental management system, 50 new equal opportunities systems created, and 60 individuals assisted to start new businesses. A key impact for the area is that the supply chain has been strengthened, for example marine scientists becoming aware of the capabilities of other businesses.

With growing demand for the project’s service, the creation of a digital ecosystem is being considered to allow the cluster to operate even more effectively internally and externally to the market. Such a system could have particular benefits in rural areas where distance, poor physical communication structures and snow bound winters can be overcome.

The RegioStars Jury stated that: “The Growth in Environmental Marine Science cluster has both a strong local dimension and global outreach and visibility. Its multi-faceted support method makes this project original while its achievements to date and the strong private support are encouraging for its impact and sustainability.”

Name: Growth in Environmental Marine Science
Duration: 11/2008-12/2013
Funding: EUR 2.79 million (of which EUR 1.31 million is from the European Regional Development Fund)

Project contact: Paul Freeman, Bridge Marine Science Group
Tel.: +44 1248 718070

European Commission contact: Ton van Lierop, Spokesperson for Regional Policy
Tel.: +32 2 296 6565

Note for editors:
The EU's Cohesion Policy represents over a third of the EU budget: EUR 347 billion are being invested in about two million co-funded projects in regions and Member States throughout Europe in 2007-2013. For more information visit:
Now in its fourth edition, the RegioStars Awards identify good practices in regional development and highlight original and innovative projects that can be attractive and inspiring to other regions. RegioStars 2011 has seen 66 applications from project promoters and regions from 18 Member States. 31 projects were shortlisted by the independent jury and are presented in this brochure . This year six awards were on offer in three broad areas: two awards in economic competitiveness themes, two “CityStar” awards (in transport and energy) and one Information and Communication award (in this last category the Commission organised an online public vote in addition to the Jury award).

The winners' prizes consist of EU recognition, crystal trophies and a project video to be used by the region and the project owners in promoting their project. For information on eligibility criteria and members of the Jury, visit:

Last update: 15/05/2012  |Top