The new European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) was launched during the European conference "Innovation by R&D outsourcing" in San Sebastian, Spain, from 6 to 7 May 1999. EARTO will work to promote a competitive Europe by encouraging governments at all levels to stimulate science, research, technology and innovation, and by encouraging firms to use RTOs (research and technology organisations) special skills by outsourcing their R&D. EARTO has been formed by the merger of the former European associations for contract (EACRO) and cooperative (FEICRO) research. Markku Mannerskoski, Founding President of EARTO (from VTT Finland), said at the launch: "RTOs build vital bridges between the basic research carried out in the universities and the technological applications which firms need in order to be able to compete effectively in increasingly competitive work markets. "EARTO represents the intermediate sector of the specialised RTOs, and its members group 50,000 staff, have an annual turnover of 5,000 million euro, and service the needs of more than 100,000 customers annually. By merging EACRO and FEICRO the RTO sector in Europe now speaks with a single, more powerful voice."