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19.06.08
Positive impact of regeneration programmes

A report published this week reveals that the most economically disadvantaged regions in the European Union – such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – are catching up with the wealthier regions.

The news comes in the fifth European Commission progress report on economic and social cohesion – Growing Regions Growing Europe – which was presented in Brussels on Wednesday (June 18th) by European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hübner.

The second part of the latest progress report states that between 2000 and 2005, the more economically disadvantaged regions had a GDP – a measure of wealth creation – which grew 50% faster than the 'better off' Regional Employment and Competitiveness regions. And it outlines the factors currently driving growth in Europe, which is based on knowledge-intensive services.

Ms Hübner champions economic growth via the use of structural funds – for instance Objective One and Convergence – and in the past has referred to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a good example.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Partnership Office, said: "In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly the work to strengthen this region's economy began under the Objective One Programme and will continue under the Convergence Programmes. This report highlights key areas for structural fund investment if our economy is to become more sustainable.

 "Many of these areas align with proposed investments under the Convergence Programmes and include projects to add more knowledge in the workplace – via training and research and development – to keep ahead of the game with broadband infrastructure and to help people into work and boosting the skills of those in work."

Objective One projects that have contributed to strengthening this region's economy include the Combined Universities in Cornwall and its links with businesses; Unlocking Cornish Potential, which means businesses benefit from fresh graduate knowledge, and IT infrastructure. Because of Objective One Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has more than 99% high speed broadband coverage and businesses have been supported to make the most out of this global commerce tool. These successes will be reinforced under the Convergence Programmes.

Three contracts have also recently been announced under the European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence Programme aimed at encouraging people into work. And Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is unique in having research and development written into its ESF Convergence Operational Programme (the region's contract with the EC).

Conclusions in the latest progress report include: "Convergence regions should also aim to improve the education level of the labour force as shifting to higher value added activities will increase the demand for such labour. This will also influence the speed at which they adopt new technologies and help to reduce the productivity gap."

It emphasises the value of research and development: "…high productivity is due to strong investments in Research and Development, which are much higher than in Convergence regions. Yet to maintain a global edge, these regions have to be able to compete with other world competitors, which invest even higher shares in R&D and higher education."

The report also highlights the importance of high growth businesses, knowledge and innovation; higher education and knowledge transfer between business and academia. This link between academia and business is a common thread through this region's European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme.

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager, the Partnership Office, on 01872 223439/07973 813647 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

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Editor's notes:

The report highlights the importance of high growth businesses, knowledge and innovation for increasing business productivity and prosperity in Convergence regions such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It notes that the percentage of people working in knowledge intensive roles in Convergence regions across Europe has increased by 3 percentage points between 2000 and 2006, but employment in science and technology – which is particularly important in knowledge intensive services such as health, education and high tech manufacturing - still lags more prosperous regions.  The report highlights the importance of investment in research and development, higher education, raising skills levels across the economy and knowledge transfer between business and academia for raising productivity and improving competitiveness.

For the full report see: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docoffic/official/reports/interim5_en.htm.

For Danuta Hübner's speech about this report see: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/08/340&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
The Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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