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Vision Helping Revive Flagging Industrial Areas

An Internet-based system to help revive flagging areas hit by the decline of traditional heavy industry, such as steel and mining, has been developed with the help of 850,000 euros from the EU's Framework Programme.

VISION was launched to create an Internet-based system to promote rapid industrial reconversion. This is a major issue for large parts of Europe where the loss of traditional industries left areas of high unemployment and social deprivation, despite many being populated by workers with good qualifications and ability. At the same time, industries in other parts of Europe are suffering from the lack of qualified manpower. The advent of the Internet means that, in principle, quite a lot of highly-specialised services can be performed by professionals many miles away from the contractors of such services. Among the examples are software programming, design activities in many areas, and consulting. The achievement of VISION was to launch the idea of the Virtual Incubator, a Europe-wide network linking potential industrial regeneration sites, start-ups, Venture Capitalists, Technopoles and Local Authorities. Such a network will revolutionise the way industrial revitalisation is carried out and will dynamise and expedite industrial regeneration of sites throughout Europe. "We hope the success that VISION achieved can continue to be built upon to accelerate the process of industrial reconversion in Eastern Europe," says James Wilson, the Project Technical Manager. "Technological solutions are going to be the most effective - or so we believe - in dealing with these issues." The project was part of the Information Society Technologies EWEN (East West Economic Network) cluster of projects that aims to create connections between Western and Eastern regions of Europe. "VISION shows that business plans can use online techniques in the depressed regions," says Peter Walters, FP6UK's National Contact Point for Information Society Technologies. The project aimed to help business start-ups by easing access to IS Technologies and finance and this remains the hope for the future. The current Framework Programme (FP6) runs until 2006 and organisations wanting free information on how to access some of the 19bn available should log on to http://fp6uk.ost.gov.uk or call central telephone support on 0870 600 6080.The EU's 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 19 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 PTA's - with a budget of 3.822bn over the lifetime of FP6. Over 400 projects will arise from the first and second calls, with call budgets of 1070m and 525m respectively. The 3rd Call for proposals was one of three separate calls in the IST domain that have a closing date of 15 October - including a Joint Call with the Nanotechnologies, Materials and Production technologies area. Further calls for 1bn and 800m are expected late 2004 and mid 2005.

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