EU Commissioner hails South West innovation as model for cohesion
South West England has been praised as an 'exemplar'
region for the way it has invested European structural funds
to help develop a thriving economy.
The comments were made by European Commissioner for Regional
Policy, Danuta Hübner, who was speaking at an international
summit on innovation hosted by the South West of England Regional
Development Agency (RDA) at the Combined Universities in Cornwall
(CUC) main campus near Falmouth.
During her visit, which was arranged following a personal
invitation from Juliet Williams, chairman of the South West
RDA, the Commissioner also toured innovative projects in Cornwall
that have been invested in jointly by the Cornwall and Isles
of Scilly Objective One Programme and the RDA.
These included Newquay Cornwall Airport, the Jamie Oliver-inspired
Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, Tolvaddon Energy Park and the
Summit participants included delegates from 25 EU regions
and 19 member states and examined how regions can develop
an innovative culture to turn ideas into business opportunities.
The summit was especially timely as regions across Europe
are negotiating with the European Commission about how they
intend to invest the next round of European structural funds
between 2007 and 2013.
In the South West more than £600 million will be available
through the new Convergence and Competitiveness European Regional
Development Fund Programmes. The majority of this investment
will be managed on behalf of partners by the RDA, and promoting
innovation is a key part of new EU regional policy.
Commissioner Hübner said: "South West England
is among those exemplar regions in Europe that have truly
grasped the opportunity presented by EU structural funds.
The examples of investment I have seen today show what can
be achieved by a region that recognises why knowledge and
creativity are all vital ingredients to fostering a modern,
"As we move forward with the new Convergence and
Competitiveness programmes I have every confidence that South
West England will continue to be a beacon among EU regions."
South West RDA chairman Juliet Williams said: "In
welcoming Commissioner Hübner to Cornwall once again
we are showcasing what has been achieved and how we intend
to build on those achievements. The Commissioner outlined
how European regional policy is shifting from 'opening
roads to opening minds' by focusing on spreading knowledge
and innovation among the regions, and that's what we
and our partners will do through sharing best practice."
Carleen Kelemen, director of the Objective One Partnership,
said: "It is a great pleasure to welcome Commissioner
Hübner and our many international guests to Cornwall.
The Commissioner and Juliet Williams, together with Cornwall
County Council, have created this opportunity to showcase
Cornwall's innovative investment projects to the rest
of Europe. It is a credit to the many people, businesses and
partnership organisations that have made Objective One the
success that it is."
Councillor Andrew Mitchell, Cornwall County Council's
executive member for the economy said: "I am grateful
for the interest Mrs Hübner has shown in what we are
doing here in Cornwall with the funds through the Objective
One Programme and the support she has offered to ensure Cornwall
continues with best practice for the Convergence Programme.
"The visit allowed us to show how innovative and
diverse projects have all benefited from European money and
the impact they are having on making the Cornish economy one
of the fastest growing in Europe for assisted areas. That
skill and best practice is why we had the Commissioner visiting
us two years running and over 20 regions from across Europe
attending this important joint Cornwall – RDA summit."
Commissioner Hübner arrived in Cornwall at Newquay Cornwall
Airport where she was briefed on the expansion of facilities
which aim to increase passenger numbers to 700,000 by 2011.
She also viewed the new £3.3 million terminal extension,
which has been supported by £1.25m from Objective One.
The South West RDA has committed £8 million to support
Newquay Cornwall Airport's development, with £12
million expected from Objective One in recognition of the
airport's vital contribution to supporting the economy
of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
From there Commissioner Hübner travelled to Watergate
Bay to visit the Jamie Oliver-inspired Fifteen Cornwall restaurant
which is helping disadvantaged young people from Cornwall
pursue new careers by training as chefs.
The RDA and Objective One jointly invested more than £1
million in the social enterprise which opened in May last
year. The restaurant has provided a valuable boost to Cornwall's
tourism industry and makes use of the abundance of high quality
local food producers in the region. The individual trainees
receive ESF support through Jobcentre Plus and the Learning
and Skills Council co-financing programme.
The Commissioner then travelled to the £4 million Tolvaddon
Energy Park in Camborne and was briefed on the comprehensive
regeneration plans for the area by Nigel Tipple, chief executive
of CPR Regeneration, the urban regeneration company for Camborne,
Pool and Redruth.
Tolvaddon, which opened in April 2002, is home to several
hi-tech businesses and was invested in jointly by the RDA
and Objective One. It was one of the first projects to benefit
from the Objective One Programme and remains one of the mostly
energy-efficient developments ever built in Cornwall.
The Commissioner then spent the afternoon at the CUC main
campus at Tremough where the international innovation summit
was held. The CUC is seen as a model for other EU regions
and has been praised at the highest level in Brussels.
The £125 million CUC has been the cornerstone of the
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Objective One programme and
has lead to a huge expansion of higher education facilities
across Cornwall. Objective One has invested a total of £63.5m
in the project, with £18.2 million coming from the RDA.
Commissioner Hübner visited Cornwall in May last year
when she inaugurated the second phase of the CUC and visited
the Eden Project.
For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media
Relations Manager, Objective One Partnership on 07973 813647
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
||The South West of England Regional Development Agency
was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term
economic success of the region. It does this by working
with others to give people the skills they need, encouraging
enterprise, improving infrastructure, helping communities
with regeneration and promoting the strengths of the region.
||The Objective One and Objective Two programmes in South
West England ran from 2000 to 2006.
||The Convergence European Regional Development Fund Programme
for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will succeed the
current Objective One Programme. The new programme is
valued at around £470m between 2007 and 2013.
||Outside Cornwall (ie the rest of the region) will be
covered by the new Competitiveness Programme which is
valued at around £181 million for the same period.
||Draft Operational Programmes, which set out how the
European funding will be invested in the region, were
submitted for each Programme to the European Commission
in May. There now follows a period of negotiation before
the Programmes are approved, which is expected to be in
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439