Further to the European Parliament and Council Decision on the specific programme in the field of communications technologies on 27 July 1994, a call for proposals in Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS) was launched by the Commission in September 1994. The programme is dedicated to R&D in support of advanced telecommunications trials, in seven main areas: - Interactive digital multimedia services; - Photonic technologies; - High-speed networking; - Mobility and person communications networks; - Intelligence in networks and service engineering; - Quality, security and safety in communications services and systems; - Horizontal actions (including actions in international cooperation). The call has resulted in 333 proposals being received by the Commission by the deadline of 15 March 1995. Of these, 251 proposals were submitted electronically. A total of 186 of these were sent via networks as encrypted and signed files, of which only 12 failed the integrity validation on arrival. Thus, with 75% of proposals submitted in electronic form and over 50% having successfully used trans-European high-speed networks, the viability of electronic tendering in the EU for the work of the Commission has been demonstrated. In total, the proposals embraced 3,842 "participations" (as partner, associate partner or subcontractor) coming from over 1,900 separate organizations in 33 countries in Europe and elsewhere. The proposals totalled some ECU 3.7 billion of proposed work. - Analysis by country: Over 1,700 separate organizations in the 15 EU Member States participated in the call, and accounted for some 93% of all the participations. Participation was roughly proportional to the Member States' size and economic importance. Interest also, however, extended to Central and Eastern Europe, the largest block being represented by 15 proposed participations from Russia. Countries outside Europe were also represented to a small extent - principally by key players, of which the United States and Canada were the most prominent. - Analysis by size - SMEs: The ACTS programme is specifically tasked, by Council Decision, to reach a level of 33% SME participation (the two phases of the predecessor RACE programme reached 25% and 42% SME participation respectively). First analysis of participation data shows some 54% of organizations with 500 employees or less. However, some of these are subsidiaries of larger organizations etc., which a more rigorous definition of SME status might exclude. This data will therefore be re-analysed for the successful proposals when these have been negotiated with the proposers. - Analysis by activity: All the major European equipment manufacturers are present as proposed participants in ACTS. One or more is present in about 60% of all proposals. Evidently, the largest companies are the most frequently represented. All the major European telecommunications operators propose to participate. One or more is present in about 40% of all proposals; there are indeed a number of proposals in which operators from all the Member States are included. Cable television operators are also present, in a more modest way: about 20 proposed participations. The European broadcasters are represented in some 10% of proposals. In addition, two new types of organization are beginning to become apparent in this general area. Interactive service content providers (such as retailers, mail order companies and publishers) have produced 12 participations, and museums, galleries and image owners are also emerging as a recognizable group. The major European telecommunications research laboratories are substantially represented in the ACTS proposals. One of Europe's strengths is the number and size of these organizations. About 30 in total have responded to the call, and among these 22 have each proposed ten or more participations. One or more research laboratory is present in over 65% of proposals. There are three stages before an ACTS proposal becomes an ACTS project. First there is a technical evaluation of all received proposals. The evaluators - external experts specifically brought in for the task - assess the technical quality of each proposal. In the second stage, the ACTS Management Committee - a body appointed by the Member States to supervise the programme - makes a strategic evaluation. The Management Committee also allocates a level of funding to each successful proposal. Some 120 proposals have now successfully passed these two stages. The third stage directly involves the proposers themselves. The evaluators and Management Committee in many cases make recommendations concerning modifications to the proposals. Equally, the proposers have to consider the amount of funding offered by the Commission. Discussions with proposers on these matters are currently ongoing, and it is anticipated that the first ACTS projects will be well under way before the end of the year.