The strategic objective of SMARTS is to increase the participation of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the work and exploitation of results from ACTS. Participation in the framework of this project is defined as:
full partnership or subcontractor in a new or established ACTS project;
triggered usage of broadband technologies (including link services) in their own proprietary technology base;
attendance at ACTS events;
use of broadband technology products and services by non-technically based SMEs (e.g. tourism);
engineers and scientists from SMEs joining ACTS projects and trials as guest researchers.
The project will achieve these strategic goals by adopting three strategies aimed at lowering the barriers of remoteness, poor infrastructure and inability to fund the overhead of direct partnership in an ACTS project by:
organising a "Participation Broker" based on advanced communications technologies and services driven by the needs of SMEs offering services via a European network, with access points also in Central and Eastern European countries;
performing a News and Information Service on topics and items related to ACTS and advanced communications which is of interest especially to SMEs who want to participate in ACTS; previous experience in this type of activities has been gained in the Telework Stimulation Action;
actively promoting the participation of SMEs in the work of ACTS by increasing awareness among SMEs regarding opportunities offered in advanced communications, by brokering consortia with SME participation and by offering on-line SME support services to ease their burden and overhead of participation.
Summary of Trial
The objective of the SMARTS Trial is to implement and test the project's "Participation Broker" as a service to demonstrate how to promote, facilitate and manage SME participation in ACTS using advanced communications technologies and services. The "Participation Broker" will offer video-conferencing, joint editing, e-mail, database access, tele-translation, a multimedia catalogue and a multilingual user interface via a European network of 50 points of presence (POPs) involving some 5000 SMEs as users across Europe during the lifetime of the project.
Continually re-assess SME needs and requirements concerning SMARTS services, with a particular focus on electronic commerce;
promote, manage and facilitate participation of SMEs in ACTS;
trigger usage of broadband services and applications by SMEs;
provide information services for participation brokerage on common networks and media;
approach the European SME community with a series of regional and European events;
support participating SMEs and guest researchers with services for location-independent work
facilitate participation of SMEs in electronic commerce.
Four main results:
SMARTS designed a user-friendly tool that enables SMEs to engage easily in electronic commerce; this tool was officially introduced to the public at the G7 Conference in Bonn in April 1997;
SMARTS is promoting SME participation in ACTS and assisting the organisation of regional "marriage brokering" events;
A fully operational Participation Broker service system is being used by SMEs Europe-wide;
An electronic news and information service containing information on ACTS relevant to European SMEs has been implemented.
The provision of information in and around ACTS customised to the needs of SMEs is expected to increase the participation of SMEs in ACTS. By offering the necessary communication services to SMEs and actors in ACTS, SMARTS will lower the barrier for SMEs to establish and maintain a continuous working relationship with the ACTS community and to utilise advanced communications technologies and services. The SMARTS consortium includes a number of EU SMEs as well as partners from Central and Eastern European countries, thus encouraging and promoting the use of ACTS results in electronic commerce uptake beyond the EU borders.