Portugal was the big winner of the RegioStars 2018 awards in Brussels, a project promoting regional innovation, cohesion and culture in the EU, with two awards for its innovation in sustainable industrial technologies and the promotion of cultural heritage.
The RegioStars awards were created to celebrate regional innovation and socio-economic cohesion, with the aim of showing that successful approaches in regional projects are living proof of how European money can be invested for growth and social understanding.
“The RegioStars are true ambassadors of cohesion policy. In our effort to better communicate what Europe does for its citizens, these projects are valuable assets and I hope they will inspire many regions when they select projects funded by the EU ”, said the Commissioner regional policy officer Corina Creţu during the ceremony.
Markku Markkula, the first vice-president of the Committee of the Regions, added that “the future of Europe must be built by these communities. And that is why cohesion policy, over its 30 years of history, has shown that this is the right way to move forward ”.
The winners were announced in Brussels on Tuesday 10 October, during a ceremony bringing together 1,200 participants, during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
This year could also be the last opportunity for the UK to participate in one of the Union’s most important forums for regional policy. However, negotiations for ongoing projects have yet to be concluded.
From South to North and from East to West
The Portuguese city of Fundão, in the Central region, won the award in the category “Supporting smart industrial transition” with its business and shared services center, a project to combat economic decline and population loss providing IT infrastructure and skills to businesses and helping innovative start-ups enter the market.
“Thank you to European solidarity and thank you to those who help these difficult territories not to give up,” the project representatives told the rally.
Portugal also won the Audience Award for the “Vista Alegre Heritage Museum” project in Ílhavo, which promotes the region’s 200-year historical link with porcelain production.
The prize for impactful work against migration challenges was awarded to the Spanish region of Murcia and to the project “Work integration and social inclusion of refugees”, a special integration program that helps migrants to become a real part of society .
“The program has been very helpful to me and my family in putting the horror behind us. I hope that one day my son will understand how the wonderful region of Murcia has given us life, peace and opportunity for many great things, ”said a Syrian refugee who participated in the project during a live broadcast from the ‘Spain.
“TeKiDe – textile fiber recycling”, a Finnish Helsinki-Uusimaa project that produces new textiles by recycling low-quality cotton waste, won the “Transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy” award. This project revolutionized the industry with its sustainable ‘cotton fields’, at the same time creating a hub for investment in both research and the region’s economy.
In a year and a half, as announced by representatives of the project, the product could be further commercialized, bringing its revolutionary concept to the large market.
The “Better Access to Public Services” prize was awarded to the Czech region of Moravia-Silesia and its social housing project in the city of Ostrava. Thanks to the project, 105 apartments have been renovated in unsanitary housing conditions. The project has also developed a framework for cooperation with city districts and social support for tenants.
“We believe that housing is a condition for being part of society, the city and the neighborhood. Thanks to this project on social housing, we can offer this opportunity to vulnerable members of society, such as the Roma ”, underlined the laureates.
Nant Gwrtheyrn, an abandoned mining village on the northwest coast of Wales, received the ‘Investing in Cultural Heritage’ award as it has been restored to become a true ambassador of Welsh culture and language.