Europe in My Region

The RegioStars Awards have been awarded every year since 2008 to the most outstanding regional projects carried out using European Union financing.

This is a repost of “Tenemos que hablar” sobre los Premios RegioStar, originally published by Andrea González González (@regglez, on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) after the European Week of Regions and Cities, which she attended as one of the three Winners of the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition. After summarising the features and participants of the RegioStars Awards she writes about her impressions and suggestions for the future.

Project presentation and the awards ceremony took place during the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC). The finalists had several forums where they could promote their entries as well as press conferences, and the event participants voted for their favourite project via an app or at voting stations set up by the organisers. These votes determined who would receive an award for the most popular project. At the same time, a panel of specialists decided which project would win in each category.

Photos of some information panels of RegioStars Awards finalists
Photos of some information panels of RegioStars Awards finalists

The awards ceremony took place at the renowned Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels, the Bozar. A final press conference with the winners was held there, along with the awards ceremony and a magnificent reception and dinner for those in attendance, featuring live music and traditional food from the Belgian capital.

Photo of the RegioStars Awards ceremony at Bozar.
Photo of the RegioStars Awards ceremony at Bozar.

The entrants and winners of the 2016 RegioStars Awards were as follows:

Category 1: Smart Growth

  • BRIDGE Programme in the Västra Götaland region, Sweden. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: BRIDGE.
  • Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster, in the region of Denmark’s capital, was the winning project in the Smart Growth category. This project is co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. Launched in 2008, it is estimated that the technology cluster has helped create 1,096 jobs in over 126 small and medium-sized enterprises. More information on its website: Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster.
  • Crossroads, an Interreg project in the Flanders region, the Netherlands and Belgium. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Crossroads.
  • InfectoGnostics Research Campus Jena in Thuringia, Germany. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: InfectoGnostics.
  • Mapping Basilicata in the region of Basilicata, Italy. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Mapping Basilicata project.

 

 

At the following link you’ll find a video of the nomination of the candidates and the announcement of the winner of Category 1 “Smart Growth” at the awards ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9sh82hSdQMA

Category 2: Sustainable Growth

  • Brussels Greenbizz in the region of Belgium’s capital, Brussels. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Brussels Greenbizz.
  • Centro Bio: Bio-industries, Biorefineries and Bioproducts in Centro, Portugal, was declared the winner in the sustainable growth category. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development, Centro Bio is a technological innovation campus aiming to help rural regions with low population density become less dependent on energy and raw materials. With a public-private investment of 9.2 million euros it has managed to create 24 sub-projects and 10 small and medium-size enterprises and involve over 2,300 young people. More information on its website: BioCentre Project (Bio-industries, Biorefineries and Bioproducts).
  • Circular Ocean, an Interreg project implemented in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greenland and Norway, won the most-popular project award, receiving the most votes of those attending the EWRC. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. To address the major pollution problem caused by rubbish in the Northern Periphery of the Arctic, the Circular Ocean project has developed innovative solutions for plastic marine waste and maintaining nets and ropes based on principles of the emerging “green economy”. More information on its website: Circular Ocean.
  • Construction of Waste Management Site for Special Purpose Association of Municipalities in the region of Lublin, Poland. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Construction of Waste Management Site for Special Purpose Association of Municipalities.
  • Innovative Technologies in Treatment of Waste from Wine Production in the city of Zagreb and Istria in Croatia. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Innovative Technologies in Treatment of Waste from Wine Production.

At the following link you’ll find the video of the nomination of the candidates and the announcement of the winner of Category 2 “Sustainable Growth” at the awards ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9_QCXYqNz0

Category 3: Inclusive Growth

  • Academy of Social Economy in the Lesser Poland region of Poland. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development, the Academy of Social Economy won the RegioStars award in the inclusive growth category thanks to its work on reintegrating people living in challenging situations or marginal areas. It is estimated that over 1,700 people have benefited from its work. More information on its website: Academy of Social Economy.
  • Diversity for Kids, an Interreg project in the Tyrol, Trentino and Alto Adige regions of Italy and Austria. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Diversity for Kids.
  • Euregio Barrierefrei, an Interreg project in the region of Salzburg-Berchtesgadener Land-Traunstein in Austria and Germany. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Euregio Barrierefrei.
  • Vives Emplea (Teambuilding for Social and Labour Inclusion), a national project in Spain. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Vives Emplea.

At the following link you’ll find the video of the nomination of the candidates and the announcement of the winner of Category 3 “Inclusive Growth” at the awards ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acp5O1EGKLk

Category 4: CityStar

  • Abattoir: Foodmet with Urban Farm (and Manufakture) in the region of Belgium’s capital, Brussels. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Abattoir: Foodmet with Urban Farm.
  • Alley of Change in the North-Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Alley of Change.
  • Intelligent Transport System in the Warsaw region of Poland. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Intelligent Transport System.
  • Revitalization of Lower Town District in the Gdansk region of Poland. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development, this project was the winner in the CityStar category. More information on its website: Revitalization of Lower Town District in Gdansk.
  • The Urban Distribution Centre of the City of Charleroi in the Wallonia region of Belgium. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: The Urban Distribution Centre of the City of Charleroi.

At the following link you’ll find the video of the nomination of the candidates and the announcement of the winner of Category 4 “CityStar” at the awards ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wjrItNF6y8

Category 5: Effective Management

  • European Social Sound in the region of Umbria, Italy. Although this project did not win an award, it is strikingly original. Co-financed with the European Social Fund, it brought together many young rock bands that participated in a competition with a European message. More information on its website: European Social Sound.
  • Development of a Unit Cost for R&D in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Development of a Unit Cost for R&D in Northern Ireland.
  • Open Innovation Platform in RIS3 Context in the Lombardy region of Italy. Co-financed with the European Fund for Regional Development. More information on its website: Open Innovation Platform in RIS3 Context.
  • Transparency Initiative Jonvabaliai (Fireflies), a national project in Lithuania. Co-financed with the European Social Fund, Fireflies was the winning candidate in its category. Since 2014 this project has focused on improving public opinion concerning the use of European funds by creating an interactive website where European project managers can voluntarily list the details of their work. The website has already received over 140,000 visits. More information on its website: Transparency Initiative Jonvabaliai.

At the following link you’ll find the video of the nomination of the candidates and the announcement of the winner of Category 5 “Effective Management” at the awards ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBL4XkGv9y0

Photo of the Commissioner of Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, giving a speech during the awards ceremony of the RegioStars Awards.
Photo of the Commissioner of Regional Policy, Corina Cretu, giving a speech during the awards ceremony of the RegioStars Awards.

At first, the amount of information regarding all the projects is overwhelming, but during the EWRC it’s hard not to become familiar with certain projects and even initiate long conversations with some of the managers involved. The networking at these awards does not involve exchanging business cards; it involves exchanging high-quality ideas and information.

It is undeniable that communication events concerning European good practices are important, perhaps more now than ever as Euroscepticism spreads like wildfire across the continent. The EU’s communication strategy with the public is constantly questioned in international forums, where there are many criticisms but very few proposed solutions.

Photo of an information forum about finalists of the RegioStars Awards at the Committee of the Regions.
Photo of an information forum about finalists of the RegioStars Awards at the Committee of the Regions.

In this context, holding competitions such as RegioStars during the EWRC is a great example of a successful communication event for European good practices but one that does not reach the general public. It is a rewarding initiative that generates very positive incentives to make good investments and design good projects, and that gives the EWRC a touch of glamour few thematic weeks have. For these reasons its continuation is more than justified.

However, it would be great if the general public participated in the event. Firstly, because people would enjoy it. The RegioStars Awards format is increasingly attractive, and the competition and ceremony are made for television. And secondly, because it would involve the general public, perhaps just as spectators, perhaps in making decisions. In the digital age, it isn’t unreasonable to believe the public would be interested in voting for the most popular project via their mobile devices from the comfort of their own homes. Ideas come to mind such as creating a television channel for European entertainment – this could provide the support and infrastructure required to bring the RegioStars Awards into everyone’s homes just like other competitions such as the Eurovision Song Contest.

The issue the EU has yet to address is communication with the general public, and although we don’t have many ideas, the fact is that concerning the Cohesion Policy in question we already have the most difficult covered: committed managers, entertaining awards, innovative ideas…in short, excellent raw materials to turn the RegioStars Awards into something even bigger.

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