The dissemination and exploitation of RTD results under the Fourth Framework Programme for research and technological development and demonstration (1994-1998) is covered by the Third Activity of the four activities which comprise the Fourth Framework Programme. The Third Activity of the Fourth Framework Programme has three main objectives: - To ensure the widest possible dissemination of the results of RTD activities under Community and national programmes; - To achieve optimum exploitation by encouraging, with the assistance of the various operators concerned, the conversion of RTD results into innovations; - To facilitate the transfer of technologies to support the various initiatives launched at national or regional level, so as to give them a trans-European dimension. The specific programme on the dissemination and exploitation of RTD results is based on a cohesive set of measures which operate alongside, and in close coordination with, the conventional methods for optimizing Community research under the specific programmes. The activities help identify the technical and economic potential of the results obtained from RTD activities and, where appropriate, provide financial assistance for demonstration projects. The four areas of the programme cover: - Dissemination and exploitation of the results of RTD research; - Dissemination of technology to enterprises (particularly SMEs); - Measures to improve the European environment for the dissemination of technologies; - Provision of scientific and technological support for other Community policies. The following is an interview with Dr. Giulio Grata, Director of Directorate-General XIII/D of the European Commission, which was published in "Innovation and Technology Transfer", Vol. 1/95. - Why have VALUE and SPRINT been merged into this new programme? VALUE and SPRINT each had their separate, well-defined identities. The former concentrated on promoting and developing the results of Community-funded research, while SPRINT had a broader brief - to improve Europe's ability to innovate and transfer technologies in general. Both programmes were highly successful in undertaking a range of activities that have been warmly welcomed. There were, however, several areas of overlap concerning their target audiences and their methods. For example, both programmes focused on measures to assist the innovation and technology transfer community in Europe, both supported specific technology projects and both developed networks, such as the VALUE Relay Centres and the various SPRINT networks linking together organizations such as industrial research and technology organizations, private technology brokers and others. Bringing the two programmes together makes for a more coherent approach in these areas. It demonstrates the EU's commitment to getting the best possible value for money out of European research expenditure. And it makes for a much simpler interface between the Framework Programme and the innovation and technology transfer community. - How will this affect activities already going on under VALUE and SPRINT? There will be what we call "selective continuity" of the existing measures under the two programmes. Some choices and adjustments will have to be made, but I expect to see a continuation of many of the existing activities. In some cases, work which has been successful in a pilot phase will move into a more formal, less experimental method of operation. The expertise and experience built up in Directorate XIII/D of the Commission through the operation of VALUE and SPRINT will remain in place, of course, but with some internal reorganization to match the structure of the new programme. - How can people get involved in the new programme? There will be funding available from the new programme in a number of areas, such as technology validation and technology transfer projects, the setting up of experimental networks and services and the strengthening of the Relay Centres. Just as for most other specific programmes of the Fourth Framework Programme, this funding will be allocated following calls for proposals and an evaluation and selection procedure. There will also be a need for specialized expertise to help the Commission with various aspects of the programme's implementation. This expertise will be obtained through contracts, assigned by means of invitations to tender. Beyond that, of course, we expect that many people throughout Europe will benefit, both as users of the programme's services such as CORDIS and the Relay Centres, and more generally from the improved climate for innovation, which is our ultimate aim. - What directions do you see for the programme in the future? The high profile given to our work by being one of the four main activities of the Framework Programme, together with the details of the recent Research Council decision and the work programme, provide a very solid foundation. In the short term, we shall be very busy implementing the main lines of the work programme, through the calls for proposals which I have already mentioned. Then, of course, we have a new Commission coming into office in January. The work of Directorate XIII/D, and thus the new programme, will fall under the authority of a new Member of the Commission, Edith Cresson, whose portfolio also covers science, research and development, the Joint Research Centre, and the area of human resources, education, training and youth. She will certainly want to have a say in the programme's future direction.