In 2004, Edinburgh and Lothians was recognised by the European Commission as a "Region of Innovation Excellence". Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, supported by its partners, led and successfully secured a bid for this award for and on behalf of the Lothian Region.
This prestigious award gives recognition to those European regions considered by the Commission to demonstrate comparative excellence in their academic and business environment, infrastructure, support mechanisms and overall capacity for the generation and growth of innovative SMEs. The Commission assessed the Edinburgh proposal as a very strong bid based on the strength in its academic base, local partnerships and the key industry sectors including Finance, Biotechnology and Information Industries.
The award is sponsored through the Commission's Thematic Network Programme, entitled PAXIS (Pilot Action of eXcellence on Innovative Start-ups). The main objective for PAXIS is to promote high-level interaction and networking between European Regions (of Innovative Excellence) to identify, capture, and ultimately disseminate best practice in the fields of regional innovation and competitiveness.
The Lothian region was the first Scottish region to be recognised by the Commission, and through its participation in the Programme joined a select group of only two other UK regions which were recognised in a previous Programme call, namely Oxford and Cambridge. There are now over 22 Regions of Innovation Excellence throughout Europe. West Lothian takes an active part in this area, and has had numerous successes through the project.
The Commission's official recognition of the Lothians as a Region of Innovative Excellence is primarily of economic significance to the Edinburgh Region in strategic terms. The aims and objectives of the PAXIS Programme are directly relevant to the Growing Businesses and Global Connections priorities within the Smart Successful Scotland strategy document. The accolade of the Award, and the associated programme of work, is beneficial to a number of key business areas, including Biotechnology, Financial Services, Information Industries, Commercialisation, Inward Investment, and - indirectly - Tourism.