At the 2024 edition of the European Entrepreneurial Region award, Małopolskie received honorary special mention for setting up a regional hub supporting Ukrainian businesses
European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are facing mounting challenges through the ongoing green and digital transitions as well as the war in Ukraine. Their competitiveness and resilience is more than ever vital for a more inclusive and sustainable European recovery. Through the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award, the CoR has awarded for the 2024 edition three European regions for their entrepreneurial strategies for SMEs and industry to promote sustainable growth during the plenary session on 6 July.
Opening the award ceremony, CoR president Vasco Alves Cordeiro, member of the Azores Regional Parliament, said: "The CoR puts resilient communities in the spotlight this week through its award for top entrepreneurial regions. To foster innovative entrepreneurship in Europe is key for the Union's competitiveness, for our path towards green industries and sustainability, circular economy and to provide quality jobs and skills' trainings for Europeans. Through the winners and their examples, we can inspire other cities and regions and we can show to EU institutions and policy makers how regions and cities are on the forefront on making Europe resilient against crises and fit for future challenges regarding our economies."
The winners of the 2024 EER Award, in alphabetical order:
Awarded for the adoption of a second generation of its municipal entrepreneurial strategy "Famalicão made IN" which, from 2014 to 2022, represented 3 371 open processes to support SMEs, 301 new start-ups/SMEs, 2 514 new jobs and raised €321m of investment. A rebranded strategy "From Made IN to Created IN" embraces the new strategic vision: to develop a fully connected techno-industrial community in a multifunctional green city. The strategy aims to gear the region's economic profile towards knowledge, technology and innovation, and seeking to mobilize the local economy to the new global challenges. The priority domains for the strategic development of the region are culture and fashion, mobility industries, advanced manufacturing systems and food systems.
Mário de Sousa Passos, Mayor of Vila Nova de Famalicão, said: "Vila Nova de Famalicão is, by its own, the European Entrepreneurial Region 2024. This distinction reflects the success of the strategic goal that the municipality has been developing in terms of creating a favourable ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation. We are one of the most entrepreneurial territories in Portugal, an industrial city with innovation, creativity, and research. We are the engine of growth and development in the North Region, the 3rd most exporter in Portugal. This is an opportunity to show our value, to grow, and to become increasingly greener, digital, and resilient European city."
Friuli Venezia Giulia
Awarded for its commitment to transform its industrial and productive system towards the Industry 5.0 paradigm, centred on human progress and well-being, tailored to achieve the climate neutrality by 2045 as set out in the Regional FVGreen strategy. The focus lies on advancing on the digital and energy transitions through a broad cooperation within the Northern Adriatic region and through robust measures fostering youth and female entrepreneurship. One example is the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project which gives a pivotal role in terms of attracting new investments in the fields and specifically benefits start-ups and SMEs active in this field.
Massimiliano Fedriga (IT), President of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and former CoR member, said: “Following the decision of the European Commission to admit our Region to the Strong Innovator group, the 2024 European Entrepreneurial Region Award is another prestigious recognition of Friuli Venezia Giulia’s effort to tackle the major challenges of our time through a responsible and forward-looking approach. In line with our government agenda, the specific territorial strategies which will be pursued next year rely on the implementation of three basic pillars: sustainability, digitalisation and clean energy transition will hence be our keywords to reinforce our policies and strengthen our position in the continental ranking.”
South Moravian Region and Brno
Awarded for its efforts to make the region "Home for Globally Successful Entrepreneurs", by developing tailored activities supporting entrepreneurs across the entire funnel, from students and pre-entrepreneurs to start-ups, scale-ups and global champions. The leading sectors of the economy are ICT, with specific strengths in cybersecurity, gaming and e-commerce, analytical and precision instruments, aerospace, precision engineering, and some specific areas of biotech. The region is committed to building an open, innovative society by investing in skills and entrepreneurial mindset from the early school years through an exemplary cooperation between the region, the city, the level of mobilised stakeholders and a demonstrated openness to European and international networks.
Anna Putnová, Brno City Councillor for Innovation and Cooperation with Research Organizations, said: "We are honoured that the European Committee of the Regions has recognized our long-term efforts in building an entrepreneurial region. We have been supporting projects to promote innovation for more than 20 years. Thanks to this, our region can now rank among one of the fastest growing innovation ecosystems in Europe in terms of growth of investment in tech companies."
Jan Grolich (CZ/EPP), Governor of the South Moravian Region, stated: "The regional innovation strategy is based on the mutual trust of the local innovation community. We work closely with companies, research organizations, and NGOs, and together we are building our region into a home for globally successful entrepreneurs. In doing so, we can rely on strong sectors such as electron microscopy or IT, especially game development or cybersecurity."
The 2024 honorary special mention:
Awarded for its commitment to become a regional hub and centre of expertise for Ukrainian businesses and citizens willing to keep up their economic activity. Through a set of concrete initiatives and cooperation with partners across the borders, the region lays its small but important brick to the process of future re-construction of the Ukrainian economy after the end of the war. One defined priority area is the environment and the associated LIFE EcoMałpolskie project which sets out a pro-environmental approach to ensure sustainable and inclusive development of new technologies and their transfer.
Witold Kozłowski, Marshal of the Małopolskie Region, said: "We have long been investing in promoting entrepreneurship for Małopolskie. With a war raging just across Poland’s border, new challenges have emerged as we pursue responsible growth in Europe. Guided by our mission, “A responsible future”, we have provided unwavering support to Ukraine and its people, contributing our potential and experience to help the nation recover and rebuild. We are ready to embrace our role as a hub for expertise and entrepreneurship for Ukrainian businesses."
The video on the three winning EER 2024 regions is available here.
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 action plan are granted the label “European Entrepreneurial Region" for the following year. Applicants must demonstrate a real political commitment to support SMEs and strengthen entrepreneurship through a strategy officially endorsed by the regional assembly, the government of the region or other authorised political bodies.
The EER label has been set up in partnership with the European Commission and is supported by many EU stakeholders such as SME United, Eurochambres, Social Economy Europe and EURADA.
The EER jury – composed of representatives of the CoR, the European Commission, the European Parliament, social partners and territorial associations – will monitor the implementation of the prize-winning regional strategies throughout 2023, with the aim of providing the winners with an objective outside view on their policies and on the progress made during the EER year.
The list of European Entrepreneurial Regions since 2011 is available here. To date, forty-two EU regions and cities have been awarded the EER label.
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