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Competitive and Sustainable Growth

Proceedings of Workshop on Virtual Institutes

A workshop on "Virtual Institutes" as part of the Support for Research Infrastructures activity of the Competitive and Sustainable Growth programme was held in Brussels on the 28th of September 2000.

The event was attended by approx. 125 people, representing all EU member states and most of the associated states. It was intended to provide a more in-depth introduction to the concept of Virtual Institutes and provide information on the mechanism and modality for implementation (expression of interest/dedicated call mechanism, scope, contract type, eligible cost, etc.).

Lectures were given by 6 invited experts covering a wide range of fields of interest for the Virtual Institute activity together with lectures by the commission staff on the general concept, financial guidelines and the first experiences and finalised by a discussion session.

In the conclusions at the workshop it was emphasised that a successful virtual institute needs:

  • strong scientific and technical consortium with a wide range of industrial contacts
  • strong management structure with a "project champion"
  • good business plan based on a sound legal structure
  • efficient use of ICT tools (an internet web-site is not enough)
  • personal contacts with potential customers in order to establish the trust necessary for good business relations.

The workshop has been summarised in a document formed as a series of questions and answers. In two of the important conclusions in this summary document it is stated:

"The value of a Virtual Institute is that it can bring together complementary institutes and companies and associate the information providers with the potential users".

"The Virtual Institute approach is well positioned to provide the backbone on which the ERA can ensure that its research is well disseminated to European industry and service providers, with the essential feedback from these communities to ensure optimum research goals".

A further result of the workshop is a set of guidance notes with useful information for the preparation of a Virtual Institute proposal.