The 15th edition of the prestigious EEPA European Business Promotion Awards took place in Portoroz (Slovenia) from 15 to 17 November 2021 – coinciding with the Slovenian European Presidency. With up to 6 categories, the "European Entreprise Promotion and Small and Mid-Caps Award" gala acknowledged and awarded initiatives which exceptionally support and foster entrepreneurship and which raise awareness about the role of start-ups, SMEs and enterprises in the European social and innovative fabric.
The European Commission in partnership with the Committee of the Regions has awarded the CILIFO project – led by the Junta de Andalucía, thanks to the co-organiser Finnova Foundation – the European award in category 4: "Supporting the internationalisation of enterprises". Funded by the Interreg POCTEP Spain - Portugal 2014 - 2020 programme and having a budget of €24.6 million, the CILIFO project and the ERDF FIREPOCTEP project (€5.6 million) have the largest budget in the field of forest fire prevention and extinction in the European Union. Thanks to the public-private open innovation partnership led by the Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible, it has been possible to implement the first accelerator/incubator worldwide focused on forest fires – Firefighting Open Innovation Lab - CILIFO.
The Director for Chemicals, Food, Retail, and Health at DG GROW, Kristin Schreiber, said: "I am proud to have been the jury for these awards for the last 6 years. These projects continue to inspire me and I am impressed by their achievements. This is the effort of many people and national EEPA coordinators. This year we had a total number of 204 coordinators among 28 participating countries."
Finnova Foundation CEO Juan Manuel Revuelta, a partner who attended the official award ceremony, reinforced the project's commitment to expand to other regions. During his speech, Mr Revuelta said: "We are facing the greatest challenge of humanity – climate change. Every year, 400 million hectares of forests are burned, which amounts to 3% of the planet's surface. That is why a week ago we co-organised an event at COP26 with the European Commission and the United Nations in Glasgow to present this project, which pledges to create green jobs as well as to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This award encourages us to extend the network of innovation centres in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Baltic, Atlantic, Macaronesian, Danube, etc. areas via the optimisation of Next Generation EU recovery funds and those that we have in this period 2021-2027, such as LIFE or Horizon Europe, EuroClima and Triangular Cooperation (international scope)."
The project currently has entities applicable in the LIFE programmes within the European Union, with 32 accelerated entities at a European level and 2 at an intercontinental level (Mexico and Brazil). In order to contribute to the transfer of knowledge, Firefighting Open Innovation Lab - CILIFO makes available to all interested parties its "Catalogue of Innovative Solutions" in which up to 24 accelerated companies with their technologies are shown.