EURADA Awards 2020

About EURADA Awards

Aiming to celebrate and recognise innovative and best practices in regional development, EURADA has been organising its yearly awards since 2015. Both members and non-members can apply. The award will be granted during Agorada2021, the General Assembly of the European Association of Development Agencies (12th and 13th of May 2021, Brussels), and the awarded Development Agencies will be invited to make a presentation.   

The desired outcome of the EURADA Awards is to identify new developments introduced by both EURADA members and non-members agencies, showcasing them for the benefit of all European regional economic practitioners.   

Being awarded by EURADA means recognition and publicity so, from EURADA’s side, we encourage everyone to participate.  

Actions rewarded

There are four types of action which will be rewarded:  

  • New organisational model for development agencies, 
  • Support given to the scaling-up of companies and entrepreneurship, 
  • Research on new topics or new tools in the area of regional economic development,
  • Re-inventing the development agencies. 

Although practices are usually cross-sectoral, please indicate when applying which type of action is the one you would like to be considered for. 

Selection criteria

The Judge Panel will select the awardees based on the following criteria:  

  • Novelty compared to current practices.
  • Impact within both EURADA members and non-member development agencies (preferably proven impact, numerically quantified, of the described actions or reliable calculations of forthcoming impact if the practice is still ongoing).
  • Availability to diffuse or transfer action principles. 

The jury rates these three criteria from 1 to 5 (1 meaning “very poorly accomplished” and 5 signifying “very well accomplished”). However, the decision is not taken based on numbers. It is just an indication for the jurors when deciding on the winners. 

Who can apply

Development and Innovation Agencies. A Development Agency is in this context considered to be any entity:  

  1. which pursues an economic development mission characterised by seeking to promote the collective or overall interest of an area (and not corporate or sectorial interests)
  2. and which is significantly linked to a local, metropolitan, or regional authority with respect to management, financing, and missions.  

Both EURADA members and non-members can apply, though there will be only one agency awarded the title of Best Development Agency. 

Application method

Applicants must submit an application with a maximum of 750 words (two A4 pages). 

The application form can be downloaded here.

Please apply with a completed action (finalised project or developed tool) or with an ongoing action at the second half of its lifespan for their impacts to be reliably proved or calculated. 

The winners of the past two editions (2019, 2018) can apply for the sake of peer learning but cannot opt for the title of Best Development Agency. 

The applications must make clear how the action is innovative, which its impact is and how transferable it is: 

  • Novelty and innovation: development agencies face common challenges and have worked towards similar goals for many years. Your action has to be presented showing how it differs from traditional approaches, making the work innovative and different from that of other RDAs, 
  • Impact: actions must have presented a positive outcome and a tangible impact – you need to give numbers.
    • For finalised actions it is necessary to give numbers or tangible outcomes,
    • For ongoing actions it is necessary for them to be in the second half of its lifetime to be able to give tangible outcomes of the first half and robust calculations for when it is completed (early-stage ideas cannot be measured in such a way).
  • Transferability: actions must present a degree of adaptability to the context of other regions or territories, which means that the practice benefits not only your beneficiaries but also other European actors and citizens. 

These three features will be explained answering the following questions:  

  • What tool or practice have you implemented or are you implementing and how does it differ from current practices?
  • What is it proven or measured impact?
  • What is its potential transferability?  

Applications must be submitted to our colleague Roser TORRES through

Applicants can also attach any annex or further information considered of importance for their practices (a booklet, letter of support, images…)  

Please note that the application must be submitted in English. Any application or annex submitted in your national language will be translated with a translation assistance tool. 

Participants can only apply with one practice/action/tool. 

Application deadline

Applications must be submitted before the 23rd of November 2020 (not inclusive).

Further requisites

Candidates must be available to take part in Agorada2021 onthe 12th and 13th of May to present their best practice.  

EURADA Awards past editions

The fifth and latest edition of the EURADA Awards was a success thanks to all the participants and the great proposals they put on board. This edition saw more than 25 applications and equal participation from EURADA members and non-members. 

There were two agencies named Best Development Agency: FUNDECYT-PCTEx and Svim (Sviluppo Marche Srl).  

FUNDECYT-PCTEx is the Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura, Spain. They were awarded the title of Best Development Agency of 2019 by EURADA for their platform Extremadura Open Innovation. This action belongs to the action type Support given to the scaling-up of companies and entrepreneurshipThis tool brought innovation to rural areas, even to tractor companies far from innovation cores and hubs. Extremadura Open Innovation allows the identification of specific challenges and opportunity sources for new ventures of tractor companies with difficult access to managing innovation processes. This platform provided personalised attention to these companies. 

Svim is the development agency of the Marche RegionItaly. One of the things they have been focusing on since 2010 is innovation vouchers. It is also since then that they have been implementing the tool Transnational Innovation Voucher Scheme (INNOVOUCHER), the tool for which they were awarded. This Scheme was developed to boost innovation and repositioning and to encourage processes of development and entrepreneurial spirit. It places clear focus on regional needs and challenges. It supports the transnational exchange of innovation services in Europe through a collaborative framework across the Union. This voucher funding process is the core element of the Scheme. Their innovation voucher call offers SMEs and Start-ups working in the chosen sectors the possibility to explore business opportunities or to solve innovation-related problems.  

Given the large number of excellent proposals, the jury decided to give a special mention to the following agencies: 

Oost NL (East Netherlands Development Agency) Oost NL was selected for a special mention for their tool ROCKET, launched under the Dutch-German Interreg 5a program. This tool supports consortia of SMEs of Dutch and German nationality to jointly develop new products using Key Enabling Technologies. The ROCKET-initiative produced 6 feasibility studies, 11 cross-border innovation projects, more than €10 million in investments, over 40 prototypes of products engineered, several awards, and a stronger Dutch-German ecosystem with regards to developments in Key Enabling Technologies. A follow-up project, named ROCKET Reloaded, has recently started; it will be responsible for another 6 cross-border innovation projects. 

InnovationQuarter, the regional development agency for the province of Zuid-Holland in the Netherlands. One of the main activities conducted by the agency is investing, and one of their funds is UNIIQ, the tool which they won the special mention with. It is a joint effort between InnovationQuarter and regional universities, with a €22 million proof-of-concept fund addressing the funding gap that exists for academic spinoffs, startups and existing SMEs with disruptive innovations by providing convertible loans of up to €300 000. With UNIIQ, InnovationQuarter offers a combination of technical expertise (university-based) and market knowledge (RDA-based). Over 600 companies were approached in 2016, investing €10 million in 33 companies in a variety of sectors, including life sciences, cleantech, and horticulture. Private investors consider InnovationQuarter a quality mark when UNIIQ participates in a company. 

We want to sincerely thank all participants for taking the time and effort to submit so many good proposals and for sharing their practices with so many others. 

The winning member of this edition was the East Marmara Development Agency (MARKA) for their InnoTEAM programme. This programme assists by mentoring local SMEs. It has also provided the RDA with a tool to offer world-class advanced services and gather a combination of local actors to provide aggregated support.  

Their purpose was to raise awareness on innovation management among local businesses, pinpointing highly innovative business and helping them enhance their innovation management skills. It has allowed different important and influential players to work together and has created synergies among them for as long as 6 months. 

There were two non-members recognised for their practices, being the Agence du Numérique from Wallonia, Belgium, and the Galician Automotive Cluster Foundation (CEAGA), from Spain. 

In the first place, the Agence du Numérique was awarded for their policy design of Digital Wallonia, the digital strategy of the Walloon Government. The jury considered that this agency is a frontrunner in the path because they have been able to create a single regional marketplace for the digitalisation. They have developed a platform which brings all the local actors together.  

Digital Wallonia works on three concepts: the strategy, defining public policies’ priorities and goals and supporting framework offered to private initiatives to promote digital technology. The platform, providing services and support for public and private stakeholders involved. And the brand, uniting public and private stakeholders and initiatives and ensuring their visibility. This platform has already been transferred to green energy cluster in Wallonia. 

In the second place, CEAGA was recognised for their Business Factory Auto (BFA). This initiative was regarded as easily implementable in any other industry or regional context. It aims to lead to the economic transformation of the productive ecosystem with an outstanding acceleration and consolidation programmes in the Automotive Sector of Galicia. 

BFA is an example of collaboration with the objective of encouraging the growth of the business fabric, turning the whole of the Automotive Sector into a highly qualified job shuttle. It contributes to strengthening the position of the sector and increasing its international visibility. 

By clicking here, you can find the EURADA awards call for 2018. 

This year was the first time when not only EURADA members could participate, and proposals were so well regarded that both categories, members and non-members, received two awards each. 

Starting from the members category, both Instituto de Desarrollo Económico del Principado de Asturias (IDEPA) and Sociedad de Desarrollo de Navarra (SODENA) from Spain were awarded. 

IDEPA was recognized for their initiative Open lnnovation 4.0. Their programme is built through public-private cooperation and allows the acceleration and bringing to the market of innovative young companies by the help of consolidated companies. It helps in facing the challenges of digitalisation and consolidation. 

This tool was already proving to be a success when the proposal was presented. The tool allowed having 64 proposed solutions from:  

  • 44 young companies,  
  • 7 start-ups participating in the acceleration programme,  
  • 7 tractor companies. 

Furthermore, its qualitative impact meant 1 defined methodology for designing and developing Open Innovation programmes, 7 co-operation projects, and 7 start-ups and an Entrepreneur Consortium.  

SODENA was awarded for Orizont, the first leading agri-food accelerator. It was created to promote research and innovation with an advanced financial instrument. Orizont provides financial support, tailored training for start-ups, mentoring on business opportunities and proactive networking.  

Orizont accelerates start-ups of all agri-food subsectors of local, national or international origin at an early stage of development with scalable business proposals. They see the ecosystem as the main beneficiary of their tool, and most of the accelerated projects can be carried out and can succeed in any field and sector. 

ASTER (since 1st May 2019 ART-ER), from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, presented their tool SPARKwhich presents a new way to handle the relation between research and enterprises. SPARK empowers researchers to seek ways of producing research and results from a market point of view on the basis of the Business Model Canvas. It also foresees the involvement of different actors of the innovation ecosystem working together to highlight and release the market potential of industrial research results.  

There is a complementarity approach with a common goal: writing a business model for industrial research projects. Its transferability potential is high, and SPARK has already experimented transferability, in this case of the model in different sectors related to the regional S3 priorities. 

The Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region (RRA LUR), from Slovenia, was awarded for the creation of the Regional Creative Economy Center (RCKE). According to RRA LUR’s president, this is not only a project but a full addressing of the development of a creative economy in the region, aiming to transfer knowledge and experience to other regions in Slovenia and beyond. The RCKE aims to support the development of the creative sector and to create spill-over effects when cooperating with other sectors. 

This proposal was awarded because of its novelty, transferability, and impact at the time. It showed the importance of promoting the development of a cultural and creative sector based on expression of creativity, co-shaping and co-production with various partners and civil society. 

Also worthy of mention are the five finalists for these awards: 

Firstly, the Agentia pentru Dezvoltare Regionala Nord-Est from Romania for Rubik Hub. This proposal aims to support start-up founders and entrepreneurs outside regional capitals and university cities. Its goal is equal opportunities when it comes to entrepreneurship. 

Secondly, FUNDECYT-PCTEX from Extremadura, Spain, for their Office for Innovation (O4i). In this region, 99.97% of the companies are SMEs, and O4i fosters open innovation for them. It uses innovation and continuous improvement, competitive intelligence and adaptability to change as key issues, where the exchange of knowledge plays a very important role. 

Thirdly, İzmir Development Agency (IZKA) from Turkey was noteworthy for their Renewable Energy Worshops for Kids project. It regards children as recipients of knowledge on renewable energy. Their workshops aim to raise awareness about energy resources and were designed with STEM education tools. A workshop was held at the İzmir International Fair with the participation of children from the 8-12 age group. 

Fourthly, the Regional Development Agency of Murcia, Spain, for their INNOVATION ACCELERATOR. This tool is a global service programme aimed at enhancing innovation management capacities amongst advanced pre-innovation SMEs. The programme provides assessment, tools, workshops, and financial support, among others, increasing the innovation capabilities of SMEs and helping them to find new business opportunities.  

Fifth and lastly, but not least, the Regional Development Agency of Sisak Moslavina County SIMORA, from Croatia were worth noting for their initiative to make Sisak Moslavina County center of the gaming industry. The unemployment rate in this region is very high and the ultimate purpose of this project is to generate many workplaces and better living standards. 

The winner for the second edition of the EURADA Awards was Kainuun Etu from Kainuu, Finland, for their one-stop-shop service, a unique entry point for companies which reinforced its customer approach. The agency has a central management system that mobilises all the stakeholders that could satisfy the needs of the company. It was already a success in the time of the awarding since it had increased the customer base of the development agency by 300%.  

Moreover, this is a process-led change to a sector-based working model, and it utilises existing tools, so it showed big potential to be adopted easily. They represent support for consolidated enterprises. 

Many good practices were presented this edition and they are worthy of mention. 

Firstly, ACCIÓ from Catalonia, Spain, was a finalist for their European Projects Management Office (EPMO). EPMO performs the overall coordination of ACCIÓ’s participation in EU projects and offers a series of services. They implemented an advanced structure that increased their participation in EU grants, which shows a new organisational model for development agencies. 

Secondly, East Marmara Development Agency (MARKA) from Turkey became finalist for their network proposal, created through using Google’s free e-mailing group service. The subscribers of the network are regional stakeholders of local for-profit and non-for-profit organisations. MARKA maintains their link with visiting and contacting inquirers through this network. It is a practice easily transferable to any other European region. 

Last but not least, North East Regional Development Agency from Romania presented their S3 cooperation tool, consisting of an exchange of experts between North East Romania and their partners from the Northern Netherlands Alliance. Both regions analysed and fixed with each other’s help the gaps in their value chains. This tool has presented its adaptability with its ability to change, evolve, and readapt to new challenges. What’s more, it is easily transferable to regions with similar issues. 

This year the first edition of EURADA Awards took place. East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL) was awarded this time for their Food Valley Ambassador Programme, having potential and being easily transferable to other RDAs.  

With this programme, a combination of product development, regional promotion, human capital development, and internationalisation, companies can get big benefits, institutions knowledge, and regional growth. Plus, it presents itself as easily replicable.  

It was the first specific action for human resources, and they were able to combine internationalisation, innovation support to local companies, talent attraction, and cooperation with universities and research organisations. Therefore, they accomplished the selection criteria of novelty, addressing new topics and new use in the area of RDA actions. 

Let us also mention the finalists for this award and good practices presented by them. 

Firstly, FUNDECYT from Extremadura, Spain, for their Office for Innovation (O4i). This RDA presented the merger of two entities that previously operated independently. It learned to bring together key regional intervention capabilities, such as the connection with Europe and the knowledge of the business and entrepreneurial ecosystem, for the benefit of the region. This agency also managed to be within SMEs, and SMEs are at the same time part of the organisation. 

Secondly, Instituto Aragonés de Fomento (IAF) from Aragón, Spain for its Open Spaces for Innovation (OSFI). Their aim is to train new entrepreneurs so as they can start their projects in the study centre and create a long-term link between the education system and the productive sector. Also, the service pack offered to entrepreneurs has no cost, so it is easily transferable to many other regions. 

Thirdly, İzmir Development Agency (IZKA) from Turkey, for their programme to support clean production. Their tool innovated the Financial Support Programme since their RDA itself became part of the process of project-making. This way, a refinement process enabled better implementation of the projects and energy and water saving were achieved. 

Fourthly, Madrid Emprende from Spain stood out for their International Lab for entrepreneurs and privately funded accelerator program. This RDA offers free consulting and office space for a year as part of the first tool. As for the second tool, Madrid Emprende has been working toward bringing in both multinationals and large companies based in Madrid to the entrepreneur ecosystem encouraging synergies between large companies, entrepreneurs and SMEs. 

Fifth and lastly, North East Regional Development Agency from Romania should be paid attention to for their innovative tools for the management of the Sectoral Operational Programme. This programme was dedicated exclusively to private businesses. This RDA developed a multi-functional unique tool nationwide, able to provide control over project status and progress and anticipation of problems.