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Construction Industry To Benefit From On-Line Virtual Enterprise

Construction companies in the UK can now make use of new internet-based services that will enhance collaboration and teamwork within the whole European construction industry.

Thanks to a grant of almost 1.5 million from the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme of the European Unions Framework Programme, the project named OSMOS (Open System for Inter-enterprise Information Management in Dynamic Virtual Environments) succeeded in providing all the necessary conditions for optimising processes found in construction enterprises, especially SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises). Outlining the objectives of the project Professor Yacine Rezgui from the UK leading partner, the Information Systems Institute based at Salford University, said:,The OSMOS project is specifically concerned with defining the working practices, processes, techniques, tools and technical infrastructure to allow the European construction industry to progress from its current position towards a large scale, computer integrated approach. As such, it is an industry-led project involving construction end-users, construction IT providing companies, and academic and research organisations. Each of these groups has a very important, complementary role to play in the exploitation of the OSMOS project results. With project partners in France, Finland, Sweden and the UK, the Key achievements of OSMOS include:,· A construction Application Programming Interface supporting collaboration and team work in the Construction sector. ,· A set of information repositories, toolkits and plug-ins enabling commercial and proprietary systems to participate to a virtual enterprise. ,· Two teamwork prototype services. ,· A set of process, technical, and business recommendations. Peter Walters, UK National Contact Point for IST within the EUs Sixth Framework Programme, added: Framework funding is the EUs main method of providing funding for collaborative research and innovation. This project is a prime example of how this funding is being used to bring together years of development in a specific industry with the recent advancements in information technologies to develop dynamic virtual environments for enterprises that can be evaluated and assessed through field trials. The results can then be used to provide inexpensive and user-friendly tools that can be used by everyone in that particular business sector. The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free information on how to access some of the 17.5bn available should log on to http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk or call central telephone support on 0870 600 6080. The experience gained from OSMOS is expected to result in significant benefits for virtual enterprises within the construction industry. Beyond the advantages of implementing the OSMOS system, the research may provide the guidelines for efficient and effective work in virtual construction enterprises, for SMEs in particular. By setting-up the best practice management solutions in the most inexpensive and user-friendly way, SMEs are expected to become active participants in the international business market.,The EUs Framework Programmes are the worlds largest, publicly funded, research and technological development programmes. The Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) covers the period 2002-2006 and is the European Unions main instrument for the funding of collaborative research and innovation. It is open to public and private entities of all sizes in the EU and a number of non-EU countries. It has an overall budget of 17.5 billion. Most of the budget for FP6 is devoted to work in seven priority thematic areas:,? Life sciences, Genetics and Biotechnology for Health;,? Information Society Technologies;,? Nanotechnologies and Nanosciences, Knowledgebased Multifunctional Materials and New Production Processes and Devices;,? Aeronautics and Space;,? Food Quality and Safety;,? Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems; and,? Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society. There is also a focus on the research activities of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across all seven thematic areas. The services of FP6UK are provided by the Office of Science & Technology (OST) / Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). More information can be found on http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk ,IST Programme ,The IST Priority Thematic Area (PTA) of the 6th Framework Programme(FP6) is the largest of the seven PTAs with a budget of 3.6bn over the lifetime of FP6. The first Call for proposals with a budget of 1070m - closed in April 2003. The second Call closed on 15 October 2003 and had a budget of 525m. The 3rd Call for proposals will be announced in early June 2004 along with a Joint Call with the Priority 3 area -Nanotechnologies, Materials and Production technologies.,

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United Kingdom