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Regions for Economic Change

Exchanging good practice between Europe's regions

Johannes Hahn at Regiostars 2010"Regions for Economic Change" is an initiative of the European Commission that aims to highlight good practice in urban and regional development, with a particular focus on innovation, and to speed up the transfer of good practices to enhance the quality and impact of the EU’s regional development programmes and their implementation by the EU’s Member States and regions. It supports the EU policy objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as outlined in the EU’s 2020 strategy.

Regions for Economic Change is a learning platform for EU regions that includes the annual Regions for Economic Change Conference and RegioStars Awards, a PolicyLearning Database and interregional fast track networks, funded by the INTERREG IVC and URBACT II programmes.  Those networks are testing innovative ideas and working on their rapid transfer into regional policies and programmes. As such it will also be instrumental to inspire ideas and concepts for regional ‘smart specialization’ strategies and to maximize regional innovation potential.

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EU Structural Funds are seen as an ever more valuable source of growth-enhancing investments for Member States and regions. But how can we programme and spend the funds effectively to help transform our regional economies and yield long-term economic impact and sustainable jobs and growth?

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(26 April 2012) RegioStars Awards 2012 - 14 June 2012, Brussels

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. The deadline for submitting applications for the 2012 RegioStars Awards was 15 July 2011. The European Commission has received a record number of 107 applications. An independent Jury will select a list of finalists, who were invited to present their projects in January 2012. The Jury's decision on the award winners will be announced in June 2012 at the Regions for Economic Change conference.

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(24 november 2011) INTERREG IVC ‘Good Practice Fair 2011’ in Krakow

The INTERREG IVC ‘Good Practice Fair 2011’, is organised on 24 November in Krakow (Poland). Interregional cooperation has brought many advantages to those organisations involved in partnerships. Across 122 projects financed by the INTERREG IVC programme, over 1000 good practices have been identified or transferred within cooperation projects. The knowledge gathered in 27 EU countries, Norway and Switzerland is available to all and it is the right time to share:

  • What effective techniques have been used to promote entrepreneurship in order to boost employment?
  • What are the latest developments in sustainable public transport?
  • How do regions deal with the emphasis on innovation and how can innovative ideas be brought to the market?
  • What works on a regional level when tackling climate change?
  • How do regions face the challenges brought about by demographic change?
  • How can improving energy use improve a region’s performance?

Policy-makers and practitioners from all over Europe are invited for an intensive one-day event to share experiences and encourage uptake of good practices identified or transferred with cooperation projects. The day will be a one-stop shop for regions who may be financially restricted but know that a good idea is worth gold.

To register, connect to: - You can also find the latest event programme here.

(12 July 2011) RFEC conference 2011: Draft conclusions published

Within 2 weeks after the conference DG REGIO has published its draft conclusions of the RFEC conference 2011.

We would like to thank all speakers and participants that contributed to this successful conference.

(24 June 2011) Regiostars 2011 !

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, and the President of the RegioStars Jury Ann Mettler, executive director of the Brussels think thank Lisbon Council, announced yesterday evening the winners of the "RegioStars Awards" 2011. The prize giving ceremony recognised the most innovative projects that have been supported by European Regional Policy. Madeira and the Azores in Portugal, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Northern Mid Sweden, Wales in the UK were at centre stage. Municipalities in the Northern peripheral regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were also winners thanks to a territorial cooperation project.

Press Release

Videos of the winners :

RegioStars Awards 2011: Amsterdam Smart City and Story

RegioStars Awards 2011: Innovative and sustainable mobility (CIVITAS) and Story

RegioStars Awards 2011: system management for innovative platforms (SLIM) and Story

RegioStars Awards 2011: Growth in environmental marine science (GEMS) and Story

(15 June 2011) Only 1 month to go … check out the practical tips on how to win a RegioStar in 2012 !!

If you have implemented an innovative project in line with the Europe 2020 strategy and you want to showcase it, you have 1 month to meet the 15 July closing date for submitting applications. 

The categories for the 2012 RegioStars awards deal with service innovation, sustainable development, demographic change, urban development and informing the public about EU supported projects. Visit the RegioStars 2012 website to download the application forms and guide.

10 practical tips for winning an award in 2012 are available on the RegioNetwork 2020 website.  RegioNetwork is a collaborative platform for representatives of European regions and other people who have an interest in EU regional policy.  You will need to log in (or create an account if you don't already have one) in order to access the practical tips for the 2012 RegioStars awards.

The RegioStars 2011 award ceremony will be held in Brussels on 23 June 2011. This year, projects submitted by 31 finalists will be competing for the six prizes.

(14 June 2011) Smart Specialisation and place-based approach

With the date of the 2011 RFEC conference advancing rapidly please follow this link to for a recent in-depth contribution that discusses the concept of smart specialisaiaton and its consistency with the place-based approach of the EU's regional development policy: Philip Mc Cann and Raquel Ortega-Arguiles: Smart Specialisation, Regional Growth and Applications to EU Cohesion Policy.

(22 March 2011) Regions meet to discuss smart specialisation strategies

About 150 representatives of Structural Funds Managing Authorities, SME and regional networks and officers from Brussels-based regional representations joined the expert workshop on "The S3 Platform: How to assist regions in developing smart specialisation strategies?", held on 10 and 11 March 2011 at the Committee of the Regions. The workshop was organised by EURADA, the European Association of Development Agencies, in cooperation with DG REGIO and DG ENTR to gather feed-back and help prepare the Smart Specialisation Platform that will be launched at the forthcoming Regions for Economic Change conference on 23-24 June 2011.

Opening the discussions, Rudolf Niessler, Director at DG REGIO, said that 'we need to fully align the priorities of cohesion policy with Europe 2020. The Communication 'Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020' and the Innovation Union Flagship both recommend to national and regional governments to design smart specialisation strategies. Smart specialisation is about involving all regions and turning their diversity into an advantage for achieving smart growth. In doing this we are able to build on the experience gained from working with the regions on their innovation strategies for already more than twenty years'. He also said that . All presentations and background documents, including a synthesis paper on smart specialisation that includes regional views and recommendations, are available on the European Association of Development Agencies website.

(16 March 2011) RegioStars 2011 finalists announced along with the details of the 2012 awards

RegioStars – the awards for innovative projects - is an annual event to recognise and reward innovative projects supported by EU regional policy. The RegioStars 2011 Jury, with Ms Ann Mettler as its President, has now chosen 31 finalists across the five categories. The 2011 scheme has seen 66 applications from project promoters and regions from 18 Member States for the awards on offer under RegioStars or CityStar categories. The finalists are listed and described in this brochure.

The award winners will be announced at the Regions for Economic Change conference on 23 June 2011.

This year for the first time an online public vote is being launched in the "Photo" category.
The call for the 2012 RegioStars Awards nominees is now open with a deadline of 15 July 2011.

(11 November 2010) Your ideas for the Regions for Economic Change Conference 2011

The Regions for Economic Change initiative launched in 2006 has been a key learning experience for many regions and their Managing Authorities through its Fast Track Networks, the Regio Stars Awards and the annual conferences, engaging regional development professionals from across Europe in the exchange of experience and thematic learning.

To further strengthen its learning aspect, we have upgraded our good practice database as a "Policy learning Database" with the inclusion of ex-post evaluations and we are planning to rebrand Regions for Economic Change as a policy learning platform for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the regions.

We also plan to dedicate our forthcoming Regions for Economic Change conference, planned for 23-24 June 2011, to the themes of smart growth and smart specialisation alongside the 4 thematic achievements highlighted by the RegioStars awards (Clusters and SME Internationalisation, Sustainable Energy Strategies, Anticipating Economic Change, Integrated Clean Transport) and some other 1 or 2 themes, probably from the social field, such as community based care and integrated housing projects.

As in previous years the aim of this conference is to gather regional development professionals, in particular from the SF Managing Authorities of EU MS and regions, and to highlight and discuss ERDF-funded good practice. Other target groups are DG Regio country desks, other Commission DGs with an interest in Regional Policy, Brussels-based regional offices and networks as well as other EU stakeholders, such as the European Parliament, Committee of the Regions, European networks, etc.

We know from previous evaluations that our audience is most interested in hearing about good practices and about other information for professional use. The networking aspect is so far not so prominent in the participant feedback, but we think this may be strengthened in the future, also depending on the conference format.

To this end we are now soliciting proposals and ideas from the regions for this conference, using exclusively the “smart growth" forum of our EU 2020 network. Please share your thoughts and suggestions on how to best make our annual conference an interesting and enriching policy learning experience based on your needs and our ambitions for an EU regional policy that empowers all regions to maximise their innovation potential and contribute to the EU 2020 goals.

(18 October 2010) RegioStars Awards 2011 – the countdown begins

The high-level jury nominated to select the finalists and winners among 66 entries in 5 categories for the RegioStars Awards 2011 has started its work at a meeting in Brussels held at DG Regio’s headquarters on 18 October 2010.

"We are quite aware that nobody takes the Lisbon Strategy more serious than the regions. Through this award we get to name and fame exciting projects and showcase them around Europe". said jury president Ann Mettler, CEO of the Lisbon Council at the meeting.

In the coming months the Jury will meet to discuss and select the short list of finalists and then the best of the nominated regional development projects for next year's awards. The awards will be presented by Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn at a ceremony alongside the Regions for Economic Change conference in June 2011.

(6 October 2010) Regions on the way to smart specialisation and the Innovation Union

The EU has set three interrelated goals as part of its Europe 2020 strategy: smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. All of these goals need ownership by cities and regions and EU regional policy is a key mechanism for delivering these goals.

Together with the Communication on the Innovation Union Flagship the European Commission has, therefore, published on 6 October 2010 a Communication on 'Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020' with the aim to align Regional Policy closely with the Europe 2020 goals, enhance the impact of the policy for regional innovation and competitiveness and to help regions in making more synergetic use of different EU funding opportunities to support their strategies.

Among others, it recommends that regions develop ‘smart specialisation strategies’ and focus ERDF expenditure on the most promising growth areas in each region identified in these strategies. To advise regions in developing and peer-reviewing such strategies and get access to expert advice, a smart specialisation platform is currently being developed by the Commission services to be launched by 2012.

(26 October 2010) RIM provides regions with benchmarking and learning tool

The Regional Innovation Monitor (RIM) was launched by the European Commission on 26 October.  The site was developed by contractors on behalf of DG Enterprise. 

The RIM is a powerful policy learning and benchmarking tool for regional innovation policy makers. It contains regional profiles of 200 regions and a description of their key innovation support measures and related documents. It allows for thematic searches at national and regional level. Registered users can also organise their own library of relevant documents, as well as rating the quality of the information and commenting.

It also offers 2 benchmarking tools, an easy-access standard benchmarking tool and an interactive expert benchmarking tool. 43 standard indicators are so far included. Users can create different types of charts to illustrate their region's comparative performance

EU Regional Policy: Stay informed