14 April 1999 marked the first deadline for responses to calls for proposals under the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) for Research, Technological development and Demonstration (RTD) (1998 to 2002). This call concerned Exploratory Awards, which are grants of up to 22,500 Euro to help SMEs to put together research proposals under FP5. The Commission received 329 proposals in response to the call, exceeding expectations. The majority of proposals sought financing for work in the area of competitive and sustainable growth, followed by quality of life and management of living resources, then energy, environment and sustainable development, and, finally, the user friendly information society. The SME unit of the European Commission, Directorate-General XII, is pleased with the response, particularly as proposers only had a short time to prepare the necessary documentation to submit their proposals after the call opened on 1 April 1999. The concept behind the tight deadlines under this call is to make it easier for SMEs to prepare proposals in response to other calls for FP5. Proposers can submit their proposals at any time after a call is announced in the Official Journal of the European Communities. However, this open call is broken down into many cut-off dates (around mid-January, mid-April and mid-September) so that SMEs can present proposals according to their needs. The Commission also aimed to help SMEs by keeping the application forms and documents for exploratory awards to only five pages, to minimize the time and effort required to put a proposal together. 40% of proposals were written up with the help of interactive application forms available from the CORDIS FP5 Web service, which allowed proposers to ensure proper formatting of their documents before posting them to the Commission. At the time of writing, the Commission had also received 4 proposals for the cooperative research projects (CRAFT) in the areas covered by the thematic programmes "Quality of life and management of living resources". The next cut-off date for submitting both exploratory awards and CRAFT projects is 15 September 1999.