North Wales Business Scoops European RegioStars Award 2011

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Bridge Marine Science Group are celebrating after winning a celebrated European award for their GEMS project. The RegioStars Awards recognise European funded projects for outstanding enterprise and innovation.

The team at Bridge Marine Science Group (BMSG) are celebrating for picking up a coveted RegioStars Award 2011 for their innovative GEMS (Growth in Environmental Marine Science). Based in Menai Bridge and Cardiff, the team at BMSG picked up the award within the Economic Competitiveness Theme which was presented by EU Regional Policy Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, whom on presenting the RegioStars Awards said Wales should be proud of its success. This is the third time Wales has walked away with one of Europe’s top awards for enterprise and innovation.

The award ceremony, held in Brussels on Thursday 23rd June, highlighted 31 exceptional projects throughout 19 European countries. Beating off other hopefuls, including Spacesport Sweden – a Swedish initiative looking at establishing commercial human spaceflights, Bridge Marine Science Group were hailed as ‘an encouraging collaboration, drawing on a pool of expertise’ by Alun Davies AM, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes.

Paul Freeman, Managing Director of Bridge Marine Science Group, feels that the award highlights the positive social impact and significant economical benefits the GEMS project is achieving within Wales.

Paul says: “The GEMS project supports marine students, graduates, SME’s and entrepreneurs within rural Wales to successfully overcome the global challenges that are currently facing both businesses and the economy at large. Through clustering and creating efficient and effective supply chains the Welsh marine sector is stronger than ever. We feel the success of this project is testament to how team work and partnership building can buck the trend to create positive outcomes.”

Ann Mettler, Executive Director and co-founder of the Lisbon Project and president of the jury who had the difficult task of selecting the winning projects, said at the RegioStars 2011 Award ceremony.

“We looked for the innovation of the project and the impact it has on the real world, as well as the sustainability. There is a need to celebrate the best practices in Europe and we are ‘naming and faming’ that the winners of these awards show the best practices in Europe.”

Ann Mettler also said that ‘others should be inspired by the winning projects and innovation is not imitation but is built on inherent strength and inspiration. The awards (RegioStars) demonstrate that EU funds have been put to good use – a fact that is of paramount importance in view of the intense negotiations to be expected over the next financial perspective 2013 – 20.’

Paul Freeman is now hoping other industries will follow the lead of the GEMS project to help boost the economy and create jobs. Paul continues:

“Despite the economic climate, statistics show that between 2009–10 48,000 new, private sector businesses were created. And almost two thirds of all private sector businesses are sole traders. The GEMS project has shown that through collaborative working and seizing opportunities these micro businesses are able to effectively compete against larger organisations.”

It was also the GEMS project that brought Wales’ first ever Marine Conference to Wales in 2010. The conference, which was held as part of Gwynedd Business Week, brought brand new marine technologies to Wales by inviting the BMT Group along to talk on how they have helped develop a shoal of robotic fish, dubbed RoboCod, as the latest weapon designed to detect pollution.

The GEMS project received part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Follow the link for video of the RegioStars winners Bridge Marine Science Group and the GEMS


Photo Captions: Paul Freeman and Ann Mettler at RegioStars 2011: Paul Freeman and Ann Mettler on stage at the RegioStars Award Ceremony 2011

Paul Freeman with the Regiostars Award. From left: Alun Davies AM , Paul Freeman, Ann Mettler and European Commissioner Johannes Hahn congratulating BMSG on their Award

Paul Freeman of BMSG: Paul Freeman explaining the success of the GEMS Project to Commissioner Hahn

Editors Note:

Through Bridge Marine Science Group GEMS addresses the needs of new and existing marine and aquatic science SMEs, encouraging collaboration and drawing on a pool of expertise to compete internationally for contracts, creating a successful and dynamic knowledge-based cluster.

It is the third time that Wales has won a prestigious EU RegioStars Award. In 2009 for the Swansea University DIPLE project and in 2008 for OpTIC in St Asaph.

For more information on Bridge Marine Science Group visit

For further information on Bridge Marine Science Group please contact:

Teresa Carnall on 01248 718 010 or 07810 548 455 or email teresa.carnall(at)


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Teresa Carnall
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