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The Warsaw Voice » Business » February 13, 2013
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Polish project awarded by European Commission for innovative use of EU investment
February 13, 2013   
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RegioStars Awards 2013 ceremony
Poland was announced as one of the winners of the prestigious RegioStars Awards 2013 for Europe’s most innovative and inspiring projects during a ceremony at the “Palais des Beaux-Arts” in Brussels hosted by the European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn.

The European Commission awarded prizes in five categories for projects from five countries (Poland, Portugal, the UK, Germany and Lithuania) which will contribute to creating future jobs.

Poland won in the 3rd Category - "Inclusive Growth" for the project “Individual Employment Paths” – Warmińsko-Mazurskie. Specifically targeted at the long-term unemployed in the 45 + age bracket, the project in Elblag, Poland took a personal and health-centered approach to job seeking and job retention.

A professional job coach established a “personal development plan” for a target group of long-term jobless – the majority of them women, including vocational training and psychological support. Almost 80% of them went on to find a job. Thanks to continued support and intervention, 9/10 of them were in the same jobs some 15 months later. The project has led to an attitudinal shift in the city also, with 60% of the employers involved saying they would be more interested in recruting peple aged 45 and over. – “It is important that most people are not rushed for job thus far and we believe thatthis is the additional success of this project - said Jacek Protas , governor of the Warmińsko-Mazurskie province.

“ EU investment must be channeled into projects that create real growth with real benefits for citizens, the environment and the economy. We need dynamic and innovative solutions to get Europe’s economy growing. This year’s winners are model projects in business innovation, resource efficiency and social inclusion, all with the aim of improving the quality of citizens’ lives. They are concrete examples of how we can put our broader European goals, as defined by our Europe 2020 strategy, into practice on the ground. They are driven by local commitment and creativity”. Commissioner Hahn said at the award presenting ceremony.

Innovative projects demonstrate good practice in regional development. The annual RegioStars Awards are open to all EU regions to submit projects which have received investment through EU Regional Policy since 1st January 2000. In this 6th edition of the Awards attracted a record 149 applications, with 27 highly commended finalist.

The winners in other categories were:

Category 1 “Smart Growth”: “UPTEC – Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia da Universidade do Porto” – Porto. Science and Technology Park of the University of Porto (UPTEC) develops clusters, transmits skills between academy and local business in sectors of innovation potential in the local economy. The project is divided into four distinct poles – Technology, CreativeIndustries, Sea Technology and Biotechnology including two support structures for business - Incubators and Centers for Business Innovation. UPTEC has so far assisted 110 enterprises, including 95 start-ups, five large companies and five private innovation centres. The project has created 800 something graduate jobs, contributing to the robust economic growth in the region.

Category 2 “Sustainable Growth”: “ENWORKS Resource Efficiency Support” – North West England. ENWORKS is an environmental support service for Small and medium-sized enterprises in North West of England, offering training and advice in managing environmental risk, energy and water efficiency, improving waste management and much more. The project runs a freely accessible Online Resource Efficiency Toolkit to help managers to understand, prioritise, track and assess their environmental improvements and savings. ENWORKS has so far helped North West SMEs to identify 95 Euro milion of annual cost savings through resource efficiency 15 Euro million of which have been implemented so far. These improvements have saved over 47 000 tones of CO2 emissions, 413 000 m3 of water and 9300 tonnes of materials. In addition, the environmental improvements have created or safeguarded over 960 jobs, and over 136 Euro milion worth of sales.

Category 4 “CityStar” : “Neighbourhood Management Berlin” – Berlin. Neighbourhood Management Berlin (NMB) introduced governing councils in socially depressed districts of the German capital to strengthen the participation of local residents in decision-making on the selection and financing of projects to improve their quality of life. The councils work in cooperation with the city’s Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, debating the area’s strengths and problems and jointly finding solutions, or proposing projects to improve neighourhood life. Integration of migrant groups is a key part of the work of the Councils, with some areas having up to 79% of the population of a migrant background. The project is part of a long-term strategy of social integration in Berlin.

Category 5 “ Infloming the public”: “Towards Work – development of mediation services in recruiting people with hearing disabilities “- Lithuania. “Toward Work” developed madiation services to support the recruitment of people with hearing disabilities in Lithuania. An initial awareness campaign was run on a number of TV channels with a series of video clips challenging the traditional attitudes of the fearing society towards the deaf. Specially trained recruitment agents worked in pilot job centres to help people with hearing disabilities to find a job. Two-thirds of those assisted were successfully employed as a result and “Toward Work” was recognised as one of the most successful social integration projects in Lithuania.
Barbara Deręgowska

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