The European Commission recognises ‘Barcelona Activa’ as the best European initiative developing entrepreneurship

‘Barcelona Activa’ is Barcelona City Council’s agency for local development. Its main activities are promoting business and employment creation. ‘Barcelona Activa’ wins the Grand Jury Prize of the 2011 European Enterprise Awards, organised by the European Commission, the European Presidency and the Committee of the Regions.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

May 26, 2011 02:31 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona City Council’s local development agency has been awarded the Grand Jury Prize from the 2011 European Enterprise Awards, which are organised by the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the European Presidency, which is now held by Hungary. The awards recognise “excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level”. 399 projects from 28 different countries presented their candidatures, and ‘Barcelona Activa’ won. The Vice President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, announced the winners on Wednesday in Budapest. ‘Barcelona Activa’ received the first prize for “becoming a reference point for the city's entrepreneurs and acting as a hub for entrepreneurship”. The European Commission recognises the work undergone by ‘Barcelona Activa’, developing “innovative entrepreneurial support and training actions leading to the creation of 6,214 new businesses and 11,800 jobs” since 2004, when the agency initiated a new period. ‘Barcelona Activa’ was created by Barcelona’s City Council in 1986 as a public company to work as a “business incubator”, with 16 initial projects installed. However, 25 years later, the company has evolved and broadened its scope, mission and resources. Nowadays, it is one of Barcelona’s economic engines, working with seven different themes, focusing not only on creating new businesses, but also on coaching existing business, developing staff and job seekers’ skills, adapting new technologies to business needs or promoting innovation.

The European Commission recognised ‘Barcelona Activa’ among 399 projects from 29 countries (24 European Union member States plus Croatia, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Serbia) as a European best practice in promoting entrepreneurship at local level. The candidates competed firstly at national level. The 54 projects were pre-selected to compete at European level. The jury set a short-list with 12 initiatives in six categories. ‘Barcelona Activa’ won the most important award, the ‘Grand Jury Prize’. The fifth edition of the European Enterprise Awards handed out five other thematic prizes to initiates from Turkey, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and Hungary.

The organisers cheered the Catalan centre for “using an innovative model of both online and on-site services, the centre has coached more than 134,000 individuals. Every year, it organises a large array of events ranging from short "knowledge pills" to "knowledge weeks" and summer camps for entrepreneurs attracting more than 222.000 participants”, states the Awards press release.

The European Enterprise Awards ceremony took place during the Small Business Act conference “Mobilising SMEs for the Future of Europe” in Budapest. Vice President Tajani stated: “We need to multiply these concrete success stories and make Europe more business-oriented and business-friendly, as set out in the Small Business Act”. The President of the Committee of the Regions, Mercedes Bresso said: “In these difficult economic times, we need to support entrepreneurship more than ever. The European Enterprise Awards show what we can achieve a lot when regional and local authorities, universities and businesses all pull together in the same direction”.

Barcelona Activa’ is the local development agency of Barcelona’s City Council

It was created in 1986 as a public company, working as a “business incubator”. However, nowadays it works in many different areas and has a leading role in supporting not only business creation but also on coaching local business and helping them innovate, adapting to new realities and strengthening skills. ‘Barcelona Activa’ has seven activity lines at the moment, and helping entrepreneurs to create new businesses is only one of them. Another activity line is facilitating already created businesses first steps, by “generating cooperation networks and contributing to the improvement of their competitiveness”, as it says on its website. ‘Barcelona Activa’ also identifies new opportunities brought by emerging economic sectors or new work cultures. It also adapts professional profiles of job seekers, by broadening their skills and knowledge. The agency also looks at new technologies and makes them accessible for companies and professionals. Finally, ‘Barcelona Activa’ also promotes innovation. Every year, more than 100,000 people come to the centre looking for information or directly for assistance. ‘Barcelona Activa’ assesses 1,000 new projects a year and has more than 115 companies settled in its “Business Incubator and Technology Park”, where recently created companies are offered lower rent, just one the many advantages.