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Director-General for Industry discusses the specific programme on Information Technologies

The European Commission hosted an information day in Brussels on 13 December 1994 on the Information Technologies specific programme of the Fourth Framework programme for research and technological development and demonstration (1994-1998). The Commission published a call for ...

The European Commission hosted an information day in Brussels on 13 December 1994 on the Information Technologies specific programme of the Fourth Framework programme for research and technological development and demonstration (1994-1998). The Commission published a call for proposals for this specific programme on 15 December 1994. Dr. Stefano Micossi, the recently appointed Director-General of DG III, introduced the programme and its scope and work programme. He gave the following speech: "It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this information day, which marks the launch of the new Information Technologies programme in the Fourth Framework. The spotlight is very much on this launch. Never before have information technologies had such a high political profile. The Delors White Paper, published 12 months ago, and the Bangemann Report, presented to the Corfu Summit this summer, put the information society at the centre of the political and economic agenda. The reports spelled out some of the expected areas of impact, the transformations to take place in business and commerce, and the dangers of reacting too slowly to change. The information society will become a reality as global, fully interoperating networks, information appliances, and services are developed in response to market needs. I said global. That means that products and services have to compete on world markets, and the competition will certainly be fierce. Europe's industry needs to be at the leading edge of these global developments. It needs to focus its resources to stay abreast or ahead of its competitors. The ESPRIT programme has the objective of contributing to the growth of the global information infrastructure, and of helping European industry stay at the forefront of developments. But it can only do that, it can only bear fruit, if the ground is right, if the rules and the environment are right. Industry has to play its role, in supporting collaboration, in promoting innovation, and in using and applying the results of R&D. The new programme is starting at a time when economic prospects are improving. However, this is not a reason to harbour complacency. Industry will need important major restructuring, as we move towards the information-based economy. Companies need to respond to global markets through global alliances. Boundaries are being eroded, between supplier and users, between the professional and the consumer markets, and between the IT industries and other industrial sectors. The information technologies, telecommunications, consumer electronics and media industries are converging, and a new "digital industry" is growing up. The information society will create new conditions for industrial success. The main future source of competitive advantage is likely to be knowledge resources, that is, access to information and know-how, and human resources and capital. Of course, while you will be major contributors to facilitating these changes you will also be the subject of change! One of the ways in which we have tried to bind the programme to evolving market needs is by developing the concept of focused clusters. These aim at integrating and applying information technologies, and providing a framework for drawing together a range of different activities in a focused effort. You will be hearing more about focused clusters in what follows. The programme can make a big contribution to developing technologies and applications. But its impact will depend on the effectiveness with which those R&D results are turned into new products, processes and services. With this in mind the new programme has been conceived with a strong focus on market and user needs. The intention is to make every ECU count and to make optimum use of precious resources. That means that technology transfer and the dissemination of results are essential ingredients in the work. As Director-General for Industry of the EU Commission, my dream is to see the results of the programme impacting all sectors of European industry. Industry needs to be able to put technologies to work, to get the maximum benefit from new products, processes and services. In this sense the programme also stresses best practice in the use of technologies. But as well as the transfer of technologies and best practice in their use, to build the information society we need training — of professionals, of managers and of users. To help provide this the programme makes training an integral part of research work. Our programme will not stay unchanged. It is not something rigid. We have a rolling work programme — that is, each year with your help we shall review how needs have changed, how the "real world" has changed, and adjust the work programme and the road map of calls to take account of that. We will be able to do this more effectively because of the programme's pattern of frequent, focused calls. In planning the road map of calls we have ensured that where appropriate we will have synchronized evaluations with other programmes in areas close to ESPRIT — that is, with the ACTS programme, with Telematics Applications, and with Industrial Technologies. Ladies and gentlemen, you have come here today to learn more about the objectives, content and priorities of the work programme, and how to submit proposals — but most important of all to talk to each other with future R&D partnerships in view. I don't want to take any more of your time. It has been my pleasure to be here today, and in particular to see such a large number of people ready to participate in the programme, and in the overall European drive towards building the information society. I wish you all well over the next four years of the programme."