The FINANCIAL — According to European Committee of the Regions, Castelo Branco Municipality (Portugal), Gabrovo Municipality (Bulgaria), Helsinki-Uusimaa Region (Finland), Madrid Region (Spain), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (France) and Silesia Voivodeship (Poland) have been selected European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2021-22. Awarded by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), this label of excellence goes to regions who have demonstrated outstanding entrepreneurial foresight and an intelligent growth strategy, taking into account larger societal challenges. The 2021-22 merged edition is centred around the theme “Entrepreneurship for a Sustainable Recovery.”
Deeply affected by the crisis, the 2021-22 EER winning regions have shown the capacity to seize the crisis as a window of opportunity to reset the course of their economic development. The CoR awards these territories as beacons of a sustainable European recovery.
Opening the award ceremony, CoR President Apostolos Tzitzikostas said: ” I congratulate all the awarded regions and their political leaders for their bold, forward-looking entrepreneurial strategies The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged SMEs across Member states. It has highlighted the need to rethink business models, re-evaluate the impact of economic practices and to reconsider the resilience of supply chains. We must continue to support our SMEs, the growth engines and key employers in our regions .”
Michael Murphy (IE/EPP), Chair of the CoR’s Commission for Economic Policy, said: ” Regions and cities that are inhabited by entrepreneurial-minded people have a better chance to overcome crises and thrive in a rapidly changing world. I invite the newly awarded European Entrepreneurial Regions to celebrate entrepreneurship in their territories and to strive in their efforts to build economic and social environments conducive to entrepreneurial activity .”
According to European Committee of the Regions ,the EER award being the fruit of the CoR’s close collaboration with the European Commission and the Parliament, Hubert Gambs , Deputy Director of DG GROW, and Eva Maydell, MEP, joined the ceremony to congratulate the winning regions, where Eva Maydell said: ” During the Covid-19 crisis, we witnessed the agility, resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of many European regions. I am sure that our entrepreneurial regions will be the driving force for Europe’s economic recovery. We need to support them with investments and resources in the months and years to come. We cannot repeat old mistakes – the money we spend needs to go to regions that are willing to reinvent in line with our society’s social and environmental goals. “
The winners of the EER 2021-22:
Madrid Region, Spain
Integrated into a multilevel long term development strategy, Madrid Region’s recovery plan is mainly centred around collaborative elements which aim at building bridges between the public and private sector. The creation of an Entrepreneurship Council will bring together a variety of entrepreneurs, microenterprises and SMEs and set off synergies and network effects. The strategy responds closely to EU SME policy-guidelines and mobilises significant resources. In particular the interests of female entrepreneurs are taken into account according to European Committee of the Regions.
Isabel Diaz Ayuso , President of Madrid Region, said: “We believe that the best way to tackle the economic and social crisis that threatens Madrid, Spain and Europe is by letting the innovative and creative entrepreneurs lead the recovery. Therefore, now more than ever, we must be close to them. We want to be the economic engine of a country leading the economic and the employment recovery at European level, as we already did in the crisis of 2000s.”
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
The SME-strategy of the Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (Région Sud) is embedded into a broader regional development plan which aims at reinforcing the region’s “Entrepreneurial-DNA” around a model of sustainable economic recovery. The region has been hit hard by the current slack in tourism and it expects to be highly impacted by climate change. In this challenging context, regional authorities try to reinvent local economic cycles and to further capitalise on its vibrant start-up ecosystem and high-tech SMEs. Région Sud’s strong regional integration, particularly its economic ties into the Mediterranean area, bear a high potential to unleash multiplier effects in connected regions via a successful green transition of its economy.
Renaud MUSELIER , President of the Region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and President of Régions de France said:
” It is a great honour for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region to be receiving this award today. Being the only French region awarded and among only six in Europe proves how innovative, dynamic and enterprising our Region is. Since March 2020, we have done everything we could to work side by side with our economical partners to help them get through this historical crisis. This award is the result of a coordinated job with European institutions and the European Commission in particular, who made the right choice by giving the power to the regions to implement the European recovery plan .”
Silesia Region, Poland
As a major hub for mining and metalwork since the 19 th century, heavy industries have traditionally shaped Silesia’s economy. Structural reforms and the intelligent allocation of European funds have initiated a profound modernisation of its various industries and enabled the development of a knowledge-based economy centred around strong interlinkages between universities, research & development centres and local businesses. Accelerating the transformation of the Silesian economy, the ongoing pandemic has provided the backdrop for the regional government to put in place a large-scale industrial modernisation scheme: The Green Silesia Strategy, which actively involves important stakeholders, SMEs and civil society actors to jointly shape the shift towards a green economy.
Jakub Chełstowski , Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship and member of the CoR, said: ” The label European Entrepreneurial Region 2021-2022 is a great honour for us, but above all, an obligation to undertake further activities aimed at supporting and promoting entrepreneurship in the region. The EER label is an opportunity that the Silesian Voivodeship will fully use at the regional, national and international level.”
Gabrovo Municipality, Bulgaria
With its rapidly growing manufacturing and processing industry, Gabrovo Municipality turned into one of the most important economic centres in Bulgaria. Strategically, the region aims at orienting its economic model towards more resilience and ecologic sustainability. This shift will go along with an investment into economic activities with higher value added. New sectors such as information technology and the service sector are raised as part of Gabrovo’s smart specialization strategy. To successfully master the challenges associated with this change, the region can build on a strong record in expanding its education infrastructure in the field of engineering.
Tanya Hristova , Mayor of Gabrovo Municipality, said: ” Our vision is to develop Gabrovo as green, smart and innovative, capitalizing on the rich entrepreneurial, business, research and education achievements and taking onboard the new opportunities for a green, digital and inclusive transformation. “
Helsinki-Uusimaa Region, Finland
The Helsinki-Uusimaa Region has a particularly strong record in the field of business education. In 2012 it was already awarded European Entrepreneurial Region for its strong promotion of young entrepreneurs. Almost ten years later, the region is aiming to create the ideal environment for the sustainability-driven new generation of entrepreneurs to take the next step and put their skills at the service of a deep social and economic transformation. Endowed with a strong research and education infrastructure, the region wants to enact a coherent set of measures to speed up the development of its circular and sharing economy and bring collaborative consumption models to economic viability.
Markku Markkula , President of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Region and chair of the Finnish delegation to the CoR, said: ” Helsinki-Uusimaa was among the first regions awarded an EER label in 2012. We orchestrated a year with more than 100 events promoting entrepreneurship, especially among young people. Now we face a different reality due to the impacts of pandemic and climate emergence. The EER 2021–2022 Award for the Helsinki Region will be, above all, a platform to tackle these new challenges and collaborate locally and internationally to invent an integrated green, digital and entrepreneurial future .”
Castelo Branco Municipality, Portugal
With its dynamic agri-food sector and its strong political commitment to green change, Castelo Branco Municipality bears significant potential for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. In order to harness the efficiency of entrepreneurial approaches to tackle a variety of local challenges, the region strongly engages in the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture. A series of supportive measures have been taken in public administrations and educational institutions. Moreover, Castelo Branco’s development strategy is very well integrated into the broader Regional Innovation Strategy of the Centre of Portugal Region.
José Augusto Alves , President of Castelo Branco, said: ” In recent years the City Council of Castelo Branco has strategically bet on entrepreneurship. Nowadays we have a true entrepreneurial ecosystem that stands out at nationally and internationally. The pillars of this bet are based on several infrastructures whose dynamism allows stimulating young entrepreneurship, directing it in order to make companies more competitive. To be considered a European Region of Entrepreneurship, is not only a source of pride, but also the recognition of our strategy and of all the work developed in this area. Our Municipality, the task force who works daily for the development of our companies and the citizens of Castelo Branco feel very proud with this recognition .”
Vukovar-Srijem County, Croatia
For the first time since the launch of the EER award in 2011, the jury also decided to give a “special mention” to the Croatian Vukovar-Srijem County. The idea is to encourage the region to continue its efforts and re-apply in the next round. The Vukovar-Srijem County took considerable measures to increase its innovative capacities by synchronizing the region’s economic objectives with its research and development strategy.
The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award is a project that each year identifies and rewards EU territories, which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The territories with the most credible, forward-looking and promising plan are granted the label “European Entrepreneurial Region” (EER) for the following year.
The EER label has been set up in partnership with the European Commission and is supported by EU level stakeholders such as SME United , Eurochambres , Social Economy Europe and EURADA .
The EER jury – composed of CoR members, representatives of EU institutions, social partners and territorial associations – will monitor the implementation of the prize-winning regional strategies throughout 2021 and 2022 – with the aim of providing the winners with an objective outside view on their policies and on the progress made during that year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EER 2021-2022 edition covers two years. In light of the current sanitary and economic crisis, the EER jury decided to merge the 2020 and 2021 calls in order to give regions the opportunity to re-draft their regional development strategies and adapt them to the changed context.