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Two ESF projects win annual RegioStars award


Initiatives to support to the social economy in Poland and to increase transparency of EU spending in Lithuania are recognised as innovative good practices

The 2016 RegioStars award in the category "Inclusive growth" went to the Academy of Social Economy Development. This project was implemented by the Regional Centre for Social Policy in Krakow, Poland and co-financed by the European Social Fund.
The project aimed to bring together individuals in difficult situations (for example unemployed, disabled people, refugees, substance abusers, mentally ill) and organisations which could help them re-integrating into society (such as NGOs, local government representatives, social and employment service, social economy entities) and create a professional and comprehensive support infrastructure for social economy in the Malopolska Region.

Over 1700 individuals benefitted from the project, as well as 245 social economy entities and 203 service entities. In addition, 126 organisations participated in local partnerships, a paper magazine was created and distributed to 1500 persons and 22 study tours were organised as well as 10 social economy events.

In the category "Effective management", the prize was awarded to the Lithuanian project Jonvabaliai (Fireflies). Its main goal was improving the public perception of transparency in the use of EU funds.

The project was centred around an interactive website, hosting a map with projects financed by European Structural Funds. Project managers could, on a voluntarily basis, submit information on their project such as  results, prices, public procurement procedures, company's shareholders, anti-corruption measures, funds management and more. The more information was made public, the more “transparency fireflies” the project would earn.

Since September 2014, more than 630 project managers have joined the initiative following a series of actions which encouraged projects to join. These included an advertising campaign, a contest for municipalities, the possibility to use the initiative’s visual identity, the proposal to join open-project days, the production of road-signs inviting people to visit the projects, as well as a TV-show dedicated to the Fireflies project.

The Fireflies website was visited by 35 500 unique visitors accounting for 140 000 page views and as a result of the project, the proportion of citizens who consider the transparency level on allocation of EU funds’ as “transparent” or “rather transparent” increased from 28% to 50. 9%.

In this 9th edition of the RegioStars Awards, the European Commission received 104 applications which were evaluated by an independent professional jury on the basis of four criteria: innovation, impact, sustainability and partnerships.