The FINANCIAL -- In a pioneering approach to city centre regeneration, Bilbao has helped set up 129 small companies creating 270 jobs in leisure, arts, culture, fashion and technology. The project Spanish municipal development company Lan Ekintza-Bilbao won the 2007 European Enterprise Awards Grand Jury’s Prize at the official ceremony in Porto today.
According to European Commission, the high level jury representing business representatives and academics selected the project not only for its impressive results but also because it offers an excellent and sustainable model for urban regeneration, a challenge facing many European cities. Four other initiatives from local authorities around Europe received awards in special categories for Entrepreneurial Trailblazer, Enterprise Support, Investment in People and Responsible Entrepreneurship.
The prizes were presented by Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission and responsible for Enterprise and Industry, who said: “The highly innovative nature of this year’s award winners shows the crucial role that local and regional public authorities across Europe can play in promoting entrepreneurship and helping to create a favourable business environment. At the same time, previous winners – such as last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner Y4 – continue to move from strength to strength, attracting worldwide interest in their efforts.”
Michel Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions, added: “This year’s prize winners demonstrate clearly that enterprises are daily partners for local and regional representatives in economic and social growth across Europe. The Committee of the Regions is convinced that this alliance of enterprises and territories is crucial for the success of the Lisbon Strategy.”
Jury’s Grand Prize: Development of premises for business use in Bilbao (Spain)
The Bilbao municipality buys commercial properties, renovates them using local unemployed persons and then auctions them to viable entrepreneurial projects. To date, 129 companies have been set up creating 270 jobs in leisure, arts, culture, fashion and technology. Positive management of cash flow for the investments ensures long-term sustainability while success is reflected in the area’s regeneration and improvement in the quality of social and economic life.
Entrepreneurial Trailblazer: Ethnic coach for ethnic entrepreneurs, Vejle, Denmark
A coach of ethnic minority background himself helps immigrants to use available business services and guides them in their first steps of setting up or taking over a business. While the project is on a small scale, it is hitting a key target: dynamic people needing support. It also ensures the economic and social integration of immigrants.
Enterprise Support: 1,2,3,GO, the Greater Region network of experts and its business start-up bonuses (Luxembourg)
The 1,2,3, Go interregional network of experts and entrepreneurs assists innovative businesses to develop successful business plans. It has led to the creation of over 160 start-ups and 900 jobs many of which have become possible because of the cross-border contacts and services provided by the project.
Investment in People: Cap’Ten, be captain of your project, Wallonia, (Belgium) Cap’Ten stimulates entrepreneurship in primary school children by using resources that sharpen creativity, independence, openness, responsibility and communication skills. More than 30 000 pupils have already participated by picking their own challenge and completing it while exploiting their personal talents. The project’s particular objective is changing the mindset in a period of life often overlooked.
Responsible Entrepreneurship: Fabrica Ethica, Tuscany, Italy
The region of Tuscany has promoted corporate social responsibility (CSR) through an information campaign and an award for socially certified enterprises. It has a large number of companies certified to the international CSR standard SA8000. The region can now boast a doubling of investments as well as a much cleaner environment and better jobs.