Startup Europe Awards

CILIFO, the project that fights Forest Fires, is the winner of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA)

On Tuesday, November 16th 2021, the European final of the EEPA awards took place in Portoroz, Slovenia, and the award was conferred to the Interreg CILIFO project on forest firefighting and prevention.

  • The CILIFO project gains European recognition, for implementing the world’s first accelerator/incubator focused on forest fires, called “Firefighting Open Innovation Lab“.
  • The Finnova Foundation receives the award in Portoroz Slovenia.
  • During the ceremony, the Finnova Foundation announced its commitment to create green jobs by extending innovation centers through to the European funds in Africa, Latin America and in other regions of Europe (Mediterranean, Atlantic, Macaronesia, Baltic Danube, Adriatic and Central Europe)

The European Commission, in association with the Committee of the Regions, has awarded the CILIFO project, funded by Interreg project coordinated by the Junta de Andalucía, along with the co-organizer, the Finnova Foundation, at European level within the 4th category: “Support for the internationalization of enterprises” of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA).

Finnova was also present at the recent COP26 in Glasgow on November 8th, in a face-to-face and virtual event, together with Helmholtz Climate Initiative and Forestry Division of FAO, on deforestation and firefighting entitled “Forest ecosystems trends and innovation: satellite observation, simulations, and firefighting” which was also attended by the Minister of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning of the Regional Government of Canary Islands, José Antonio Valbuena.

The proposal of the Iberian Centre for Forest Fire Research and Fighting (CILIFO) presented by the project partner Finnova, through the Firefighting Open Innovation Lab – CILIFO, enabled the achievement of this award by the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission.

The awards ceremony was held within the framework of the Annual Assembly of the European SME week that took place from November 15th to November 17th, in 2021 in Portoroz, on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Annual Assembly of Small and Medium Enterprises is the most important event for the SMEs across Europe.

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, and Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia headed the opening of the “2021 SME Assembly”. Thomas Wobben, Director for Legislative Works of the European Committee of the Regions, was also present, representing the institution that have conferred the prestigious European awards.

Support and recognition of entrepreneurship in the European Union

With a total of 6 categories, the prestigious European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) at the gala event “European Entreprise Promotion and Small and Mid-Caps Award” which are celebrating their 15th edition this year, recognized and rewarded those initiatives that exceptionally support the entrepreneurial spirit, foster entrepreneurship, and raise awareness of the innovative role that all the start-ups, SMEs and companies, collectively play within the European social fabric. Raúl Blanco, General Secretariat for Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises of the Spanish Government was the one who informed the consortium that CILIFO was the national winner of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) within the 4th category: “Support for the internationalization of enterprises”. Moreover, the project has always counted on the support of the European Union and specifically the Sevillian Member of the European Parliament, Juan Ignacio Zoido.

The green and sustainable economic recovery

As Juan Manuel Revuelta, CEO of the Finnova Foundation, mentioned during his speech at the ceremony, we are witnessing the largest stimulus package ever, not only at European level, but worldwide. In the period 2021 – 2027, the EU will be endowed with an economic budget that is 12 times the Marshall Plan, for the recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic through the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the NextGenerationEU recovery funds.

These funds are aimed not only at economic recovery, but also at achieving it in a sustainable manner. For all these reasons, the CILIFO project coordinated by the Junta de Andalucía together with the Finnova Foundation, exposed in this official act its objective of achieving an increase in the budget in order to be directly proportional in the field of forest management and recovery from forest fire, to continue with its work of mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

With the international recognition of this project financed by the Interreg POCTEP Spain – Portugal 2014 – 2020 Program with 24.6 M€, the largest budget in the field of forest fire prevention and extinction in the European Union, which is led by the Junta de AndalucíaConsejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible, the importance of these European funds in the economic and social recovery is highlighted.

Under the umbrella of CILIFO, extending its good practices to Castilla y León, Galicia, Extremadura and all Iberian Portugal, another project of the Junta de Andalucía has been framed, financed with European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), that seeks to strengthen cross-border systems for the prevention and extinction of forest fires and the improvement of resources for the generation of rural employment post Covid-19. This project, called FIREPOCTEP, dispose of 5.6 million euros and it is driven by the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal Cooperation Program (POCTEP) 2014 – 2020 financed by 75%.

Awarded the first accelerator in the world about forest management

CILIFO’s partner Finnova Foundation, which attended the ceremony to receive the award, has been implementing the Startup Europe Accelerator open innovation methodology for more than 10 years. In this sense, the public-private partnership with the Junta de Andalucía creating the “Firefighting Open Innovation Lab – CILIFO” is notable for being the first accelerator/incubator in the world, focused on prevention and extinction of forest fires, adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

The project currently counts on entities, applicable in the LIFE Programs within the European Union, with 32 accelerated entities at European level and two at intercontinental level (Mexico and Brazil). In order to contribute to the transfer of knowledge, the Firefighting Open Innovation Lab – CILIFO places at the disposal a “Catalogue of Innovative Solutions” which showcases up to 24 accelerated companies with their technologies.

The general director of the Finnova Foundation, Juan Manuel Revuelta, encouraged in his speech at the event to present projects, using a network of innovation centers in forest management, firefighting and climate change prevention with funding from the European Union. At the ceremony, the Finnova Foundation announced its commitment to create green jobs by extending innovation centers with European funds in Africa, Latin America and in regions of Europe (Mediterranean, Atlantic, Macaronesia, Baltic, Danube areas and  Adriatic and Central Europe) through Interreg, Life, Horizon and Euroclima funds.

About Finnova Foundation (

Finnova is a foundation working to promote and develop innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is a European foundation based in Brussels and Spain, whose objectives are to promote public-private cooperation through innovation to address social challenges such as employment, training, entrepreneurship, the United Nations SDGs, circular economy, etc. Finnova organizes the Startup Europe Awards, an initiative of the European Commission and the Finnova Foundation, to recognize the best European startups in the social field.

About StartUp Europe

StartUp Europe is driven by the European Commission to promote the business ecosystem for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entrepreneurs so that their ideas and businesses can start to grow and affirm themselves in the European Union. With this initiative, the Commission seeks to respond to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

About StartUp Europe Accelerathon ( StartUp Europe Accelerathon is an acceleration program for innovative projects promoted by the Finnova Foundation that aims to find solutions and funding through an online system of applied open innovation that brings together the innovative ecosystem in different sectors. Startup Europe Accelerathon is based on the hackathon methodology, which aims to find innovative solutions to challenges. For this, an online competition methodology is established with training, mentors, jury and a prize “European acceleration ticket” with the aim of presenting the project to a European funding program, such as LIFE (2021-2027) with a budget of about 2 million euros and with a duration of 3 to 5 years. The challenges follow the indications of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About Interreg FIREPOCTEP (

The project, strengthening of cross-border systems of prevention and extinction of forest fires and improvement of resources for the generation of rural employment post Covid-19 (FIREPOCTEP), positions itself under the fourth call of the Interreg V-A Spain-Portugal Cross-Border Cooperation Program 2014-2020 (POCTEP), co-financed at 75% by the ERDF Funds with a total budget of 5.6 million euros. With a duration of 3 years (01/01/2019 to 31/12/2021) the project’s main objective is the analysis of the impact of climate change on fire risk and its effects in the environment of the Raya (Spain and Portugal). To this end, joint tools will be created to facilitate risk management in the cooperation territory through the capitalization of results, knowledge and best practices. FIREPOCTEP will not only improve cooperation and coordination of fire-fighting forces but will also serve as an example of good practices focused on the protection and promotion of the environment which, in turn, allows the creation of employment and innovation in rural areas through training actions, supporting the local economy and landscape conservation.