Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Convergence - Creating the future (EITC'97)

The 1997 European Information Technology Conference and Exhibition (EITC'97) was held in Brussels, from 24 to 26 November 1997. Organized by ESPRIT, the European Union's Information Technologies research programme, this year's EITC focused on convergence and its impact on the ...
The 1997 European Information Technology Conference and Exhibition (EITC'97) was held in Brussels, from 24 to 26 November 1997. Organized by ESPRIT, the European Union's Information Technologies research programme, this year's EITC focused on convergence and its impact on the future development of the Information Society.

Some 2,000 participants attended the three days of presentations and workshops, as well as visiting the exhibition where 80 stands presented concrete examples of new technologies and applications illustrating Europe's ability to respond to the development of the Information Society. In both the conference and the exhibition the increasing trend towards convergence was clearly demonstrated, echoing the conference theme. Earlier convergence between the telecommunications and information technologies sectors is now being followed by convergence of content providers and service suppliers.

Sessions during the conference provided updates on the latest developments in basic technologies and encouraged discussions on several current issues. Much of the conference aimed to discuss how the new applications and technologies being developed would affect people's everyday lives - looking at new ways to work, learn, have fun, do business and socialize - and at how the Information Society can be managed and regulated in a time of convergence.

Keynote speeches given by Jorma Ollila, head of Nokia, and Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, provided two personal viewpoints on the future development of the Information Society. For Mr. Ollila, the next phase will focus on the development of a wireless Information Society, with personalized communications using advanced multimedia services. Nokia, he said, would be at the forefront of developing an open global platform to enable data intensive services to use wireless networks.

According to Mr. Negroponte, governments and people across the world are hugely underestimating the impact of the global Information Society, and much greater efforts need to be made to involve children in its development, since they will be the ones to benefit from it. He called for a change of attitudes in Europe, where, apart from in Scandinavia, the availability of access to the Internet and even home computers is still very low. Part of the solution lies in reducing the costs of local telephone calls, he said, suggesting that kids' access to the Internet should be like breathing clean air.

Another major aspect of the event was technology transfer and innovation. In addition to the exhibition, participants were able to view and use several on-line results dissemination services, including CORDIS, and PROSOMA, ESPRIT's service for "turning innovation into business". A number of sessions on access to finance were designed to help companies in attracting funding for development and commercialization of new products. Some thirty companies were invited to an investment forum, where they had the opportunity to present themselves and their products to a wide range of potential investors.

Source: CORDIS Information Collection Unit

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