Awarded to Europe’s most groundbreaking initiatives the RegioStars Awards 2011 (external link) was won by the Growth in Environmental Marine Sciences (GEMS) project which prepares graduates working in marine sciences for the commercial world, as well as helping small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector to grow.
Commissioner Hahn of DG Regional Policy presented the awards and at the 2011 ceremony and said Wales should be proud of its success, providing "inspiration for other European regions."
It follows the success of OpTIC Technium in St Asaph winning the award in 2008 for its cutting-edge research and development within the Opto-electronics industry. In 2009 the award was won by the Digital, Industrial, Packaging, Lean, Environmental project (DIPLE) for pioneering new technologies to boost the printing sector in Wales.
DIPLE is based at the Wales Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) at Swansea University, the £2 million DIPLE project collaborated with 1,000 businesses, helping them identify how printing could be used to create new products and technologies to reduce costs, improve energy efficiency and increase turnover.
While OpTIC Technium facilitates the development of new products, generates new, high technology businesses, quality jobs, and plays a major role in sustaining and growing the existing Welsh Opto-electronic cluster in the region.
Opto-electronics applications are used in many high technology products and markets including television sets, CD and DVD players and aircraft navigation.
RegioStars Awards 2011: Growth in environmental marine science (GEMS)
Voice over: We are in Anglesey, North Wales. In this region, where the sea is always close, marine professions form a key sector. Paul Freeman runs a project to improve marine business competitiveness.
Paul Freeman, GEMS project leader: The main key of why we developed the project was to assist students and SMEs in the sector to come together and develop into a larger cluster, to support each other.
Voice over: This cluster, the “Bridge Marine Science Group”, joins more than 500 water-related businesses. Among them is Dylan Evans, a researcher committed to seahorse preservation.
Dylan Evans, Marine ecologist, Anglesey Sea Zoo: The cluster allows us to engage with external sources of funding and also with external researchers. With their help in fitting into that gap, we can carry on doing the work. Hopefully we’ll have hundreds of seahorses back in British waters in the next few years.
Voice over: Bridging the gap between school and the professional world, the cluster brings together students and employers looking for new talent.
Jason Priest, Business development, Bridge Marine Science Group: There is a natural scientific expertise within the area and we are looking at stopping talented individuals within the marine science sector from moving away from the region. If we can retain that, that would help underpin the sector and lead to stronger economic growth in the long term.
Voice over: With European Union support, the project has already assisted 150 SMEs and over 100 students. Paul Freeman and his partners are now confident their work will be continued by a new generation of entrepreneurs.