In January 1997, along with the other associated states of Central and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria joined the EC network of Innovation Relay Centres (IRCs). The Bulgarian Fellow Member to the IRCs (FEMIRC) was officially launched on 18 March 1997. The Bulgarian FEMIRC is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Industry, the Bulgarian Industrial Association, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Agency for Economic Coordination and Development, and is hosted and coordinated by the Applied Research and Communications Fund. The ARC Fund is a specialized NGO active in the field of telecommunications and the Information Society. The role of the Bulgarian FEMIRC is to create an information structure for technology transfer and cooperation between Bulgaria and the EU, and increase the available information on EU support mechanisms for R&D. Through the institutional network of its consortium partners, the centre covers the largest Bulgarian cities, industrial and R&D centres. The Bulgarian FEMIRC has also recently launched a World Wide Web site to promote its services and the European RTD programmes.