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Fifth Framework Programme

Find the most recent information on EU Funding activities in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by visiting our ICT in FP7 website , which covers ICT in the 7 th Framework Programme (FP7) 2007 - 2013.

IST Overview

Programme objective: A User-friendly information society

The strategic objective of the Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme is to realise the benefits of the information society for Europe both by accelerating its emergence and by ensuring that the needs of individuals and enterprises are met. It is managed by the European Commission, with the assistance of the IST Committee consisting of representatives of each Member and Associated State. The Commission and the IST Committee are supported in their work by an IST Advisory Group of some 25 members who are highly experienced in this field. They provide independent expert advice concerning the content of the IST Workprogramme.

The IST Programme has four inter-related specific objectives. For the private individual, the objective is to meet the need and expectation of high-quality affordable general interest services. For Europe's enterprises, workers and consumers, the objective is to enable individuals and organisations to innovate and be more effective and efficient in their work, thereby providing the basis for sustainable growth and high added-value employment while also improving the quality of working life. In the sector of multimedia content, the key objective is to confirm Europe as a leading force, realising its full potential. For the enabling technologies which are the foundations of the information society, the programme objective is to drive their development, enhance their applicability and accelerate their take-up in Europe.

The Programme follows on from the ESPRIT, ACTS and Telematics Applications Programmes, which were carried out by the Community within the 4th Framework Programme. It is based on a new, integrated approach which reflects the increasing convergence of the information and communications technologies which were addressed individually by those programmes.

Programme strategy

The Programme, with the help of the ISTAG and the IST Programme Committee and taking into account the policy objectives of the Union, has identified a set of focal directions for the work in 2000 and beyond. These place the needs of the user, i.e. the citizen, at home, at work, in leisure or commuting, at the centre of future development of IST.

The vision, on which the Programme directions are based, is very simple: "Our surrounding is the interface" to a universe of integrated services. This will enable citizens to access IST services wherever they are, whenever they want, and in the form that is most "natural" for them. While directly targeting the improvement of quality of life and work, the vision is expected to catalyse an expanse of business opportunities arising from the aggregation of added-value services and products.

The Programme orientations can be summarised by the following vision statement:

"Start creating the ambient intelligence landscape for seamless delivery of services and applications in Europe relying also upon test-beds and open source software, develop user-friendliness, and develop and converge the networking infrastructure in Europe to world-class".

European added value:
Realising the full potential of the information society requires technologies, infrastructures, applications and services, accessible and usable by anyone, anywhere, anytime, whether it be for business or individual use. Collaborative research and technological development is needed to create both the critical efforts and the interoperability necessary to ensure this in Europe. Pan-European research is also needed to ensure that content, together with its creation and use, properly reflects and exploits the EU's cultural diversity and many languages.
European competitiveness:
Information society technologies are integrated in, or support products and processes in all sectors of the economy. To be competitive in the global marketplace, Europe needs to master both the supply and use of information society technologies. To this end, the Programme integrates a wide range of actions to stimulate the development and take-up of information society technologies and to ensure that the conditions and requirements for their use can be met.
Socio-ecnomic needs and EU policies:
The IST Programme supports EU policies, notably in employment, social cohesion and competitiveness; in fostering the convergence of information processing, communications and media, and in ensuring interoperability and coherence at a global level. The Programme therefore foresees "close articulation between research and policies needed for a coherent and inclusive Information Society".

Integration at the Programme level is a key feature of the IST Programme. To strengthen integration, "Cross-programme actions" are planned for as well as "Clustering" activities (see below) . In order to be able to react to, and anticipate changes in technology, markets and socio-economic context, the IST Workprogrammes is revised annually in close co-operation with industry, academia and user organisations. Advice for the workprogramme is provided by the IST Advisory Group (ISTAG) and the Programme Committee.

Programme structure and contents

Key actions

The IST Programme contains four inter-related key actions, which define the research priorities.

Systems and services for the citizen
to meet the needs and expectations of European citizens for high quality and affordable services of general interest. RTD will be carried out in the fields of health, persons with special needs (including the elderly and disabled), The priority for KA I is to enable European "users" (citizens, businesses, public authorities) to take advantage of the recent advances in ubiquitous computing, ubiquitous communication and intelligent interfaces for improving general interest servicesadministrations, environment and transport.
See IST Work Programme for further information
New methods of work and electronic commerce
to enable both individuals and organisations to innovate and be more effective and efficient in their work and businesses, thus increasing their competitiveness while improving the quality of the individual's working life and consumer confidence. Work in Key Action II builds on the Programme's vision of a networked economy where consumers, workers and enterprises can seamlessly and dynamically come together and interact through a ubiquitous infrastructure that promotes both trust and confidence.
See IST Work Programme for further information
Multimedia content and tools
to confirm Europe as a leading force in this field and enable it to realise the potential of its creativity and culture. It will address issues such as interactive electronic publishing, digital heritage and cultural content, education and training, human language technologies and information access, filtering and handling. In particular, the key action concentrates on promoting creativity in the content industries through new forms of content combining highly visual and interactive media, on improving natural and user-friendly interaction between humans and the universe of digital services and on empowering the citizen through better access to culture and science, and the development of an Information Society base of knowledge and skills.
See IST Work Programme for further information
Essential technologies and infrastructures
to further the development of these technologies and infrastructures common to more than one application, enhance their applicability and accelerate their take-up in Europe. RTD will cover areas such as the convergence of information technology and communications; mobile and personal communications; microelectronics; technologies and engineering for software, systems and services; simulation and visualisation technologies; novel multisensory interfaces; and the development of peripherals, subsystems and microsystems. In particular, the priority will be on realising a ubiquitous computing and communications landscape with embedded, networked (wired or wireless) information systems and on developing open technology frameworks for personalised services irrespective of time, location and context.
See IST Work Programme for further information
Cross-programme themes
The programme structure also includes "cross-programme themes" that aim to support the integration of work at the programme level for topics which cut across the programme architecture. Two types of theme are included in the workprogramme. The first are the set of "cross-programme actions" (CPAs) which are specified in the workprogramme and for which RTD proposals are invited. The second are "cross-programme clusters" - an open mechanism - which invites proposals that help focus, co-ordinate and/or integrate activities amongst related, ongoing RTD projects throughout the programme.
See IST Work Programme for further information
Future and emerging technologies
In order to ensure that the programme remains open to new research ideas for tomorrow, the four key actions are balanced with a future and emerging technologies (FET) action, with a visionary and exploratory perspective. This involves research of a longer-term or particularly high risk nature, but which promise major advance and potential for significant industrial and societal impact. FET can be seen as a "nursery" for novel and emergent ideas which may later become mainstream topics. As such, FET is not constrained by the priorities of the key actions but rather aims to open new possibilities and to set new trends for future research.
See IST Work Programme for further information
Activities in support of research infrastructures
The programme will support activities involving the broadband interconnection of existing national research and education networks, and also the integration of leading-edge European experimental testbeds.
See IST Work Programme for further information

Synergies with other programmes

The nature of information society technologies requires close coordination with various Community and other programmes and policy initiatives in areas where their deployment plays a critical role. This includes programmes concerning manufacturing, transport, the environment and healthcare. Cofunding of research and non-research activities could for example include demonstration projects carried out in conjunction with activities funded from Community structural funds.

Satellite related activities will be coordinated with other initiatives in the context of the Commission's Space Coordination Group. The important element of international cooperation will be ensured by close links with the programme "Confirming the international role of European research", and with other relevant international initiatives.

See IST Work Programme for further information

Implementation of the programme

Types of Calls

Most activities within the programme will employ the mechanism of periodic calls, in which proposals will be invited for submission within a defined timeframe (" fixed deadline proposals ").

Certain specific activities within the Workprogramme will be subject to a continuous submission procedure without fixed deadlines. Proposals will be batched and the batches evaluated at intervals that depend on the number of proposals received, but which will not exceed 3 months.

Specific implementation modalities

The programme's goals imply that continuous efforts are required in research, technological development, demonstration and technology take-up. Each key action will, as appropriate, have a balance of the complete range of RTD activities from basic research to demonstration and take-up actions. To accelerate the realisation of knowledge as innovation, the programme must integrate with basic research and technological development measures to stimulate the take-up of these information society technologies, so as to ensure that the conditions and requirements for their use can be met. In addition to demonstrations and trials, these include actions to stimulate the development and diffusion of the skills necessary to take-up research and development results (such as first-user and best-practice actions) and consensus building and standardisation activities.

For training

The IST Programme will also support Marie Curie Industry Host Fellowships and will co-operate with the programme "Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base" with regard to other categories of fellowships offered by that programme. The Programme will initiate other training actions according to need during the lifetime of the programme.

Other implementation strategies

The IST Workprogramme

The IST Workprogramme describes in detail the objectives and the RTD priorities of the IST Programme. The Workprogramme will be adapted each year to ensure its continued relevance in the light of evolving needs and developments.

The Workprogramme includes an indicative timetable or "roadmap". This indicates which parts of the Workprogramme will be opened by Calls for Proposals in the current year, and it also gives an outline plan for the following year. The implementation of a timetable procedure of this sort provides a means of focusing attention on areas or sub-areas, thereby optimising opportunities for launching cross-key action projects and improving programme coherence, including for example the establishment of thematic networks or of project clusters (see below).


Integration at the programme level will be an important feature of the IST programme. Firstly, the issues of usability, interoperability, dependability and affordability will be addressed ubiquitously throughout the Programme. Secondly, clustering (see below) and concertation will be used to focus, coordinate and integrate activities. Thirdly, Cross-programme actions will be initiated which will focus on a limited number of specific issues relevant to the entire Programme.


Given the integrated nature of the programme, projects are encouraged to work together, to pool and to collectively build on their individual results whenever it makes sense to do so. Project clusters, each with their own specific objective, will be actively supported and encouraged in so far as they add value to the results of the IST programme seen as a whole. Whilst remaining a voluntary activity, it is anticipated that projects will find it to be in their own interest - and so worthwhile - to actively contribute to the work of specific clusters.

Clusters may centre on a specific Action Line or Key Action, but most are expected to be Cross Programme in nature. These will span more than one Key Action, and may include one or more external bodies as target recipients for their results. Individual clusters may be awarded a supplementary contract to support their work, where their participants have collectively submitted a proposal requesting this.

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Last updated: 18 | 06 | 2002

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