As part of the ESPRIT programme, the specific research and technological development programme in the field of information technologies (1990-1994), the ESSI call for proposal was launched last April (OJ No C 114 of 24.4.1993). So far this has resulted in the selection of 102 projects from a total of 981 proposals. The efficient production of software is, for most sectors of economic activity, an increasingly important topic. The goal of the European System and Software Initiative (ESSI) is to promote improvements in the software development process in industry to achieve greater efficiency, higher quality, and greater economies of scale. This will be accomplished by applying innovative software engineering in a wide range of industries. The full impact of ESSI will be achieved by a multiplier effect through dissemination across borders and across sectors. ESSI is an accompanying measure within the framework of ESPRIT and is designed to improve productivity-enhancing supports such as management practices and procedures. The generation of high-quality, robust, reliable, maintainable, and re-usable software is a complex and expensive process. As the demand for even more sophistication increases, the complexity will increase rather than diminish. This will arise for a number of reasons such as the size of the systems, specification problems and the need to deal with unpredictable circumstances. Businesses in all industrial and service sectors are increasingly dependent on the quality and relevance of software-driven systems. By enhancing the software production process and the efficiency, the quality, and the cost-effectiveness of software, a substantial added value will be provided to all sectors of activity in which software is regarded as a key component. Given the extremely broad base of software-related activities in European industry, the consequent knock-on-effect aims to have a significant impact on European competitiveness. ESSI comprises three lines of action. These are: - Application Experiments: The application experiments are directed at improving the practice of producing software by gaining experience with state-of-the-art software engineering supports in specific applications and by evaluating these supports. - Dissemination: The companies which will be directly involved in ESSI represent only a subset of all of those which could benefit from the activities of the initiative. A specific objective of the dissemination actions is to ensure that companies on a Community-wide basis are aware of the experiences of the users which are involved in the application experiments and of the opportunities more generally available to assist them in improving their software capabilities. - Education and Training: This line of action will concentrate on the development of courses and seminars which will raise the general awareness of the benefits of advanced software engineering practice. These courses and seminars will address a variety of audiences, from high-level management to novice software engineers.