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Specific programme for the dissemination and exploitation of the results of activities in the field of research, technological development and demonstration, 1994-1998

This third activity of the Fourth Framework Programme is a specific dissemination and exploitation programme, based on a cohesive set of measures which will operate alongside and, be closely coordinated with, the conventional methods for optimizing the results of RTD research.

The specific programme arises from the need to adopt a new, more focused approach to existing dissemination and exploitation activities, so that they take fuller account of the cumulative and interactive nature of the innovative process, as well as the specific needs of the diverse range of operators involved. The programme will also attempt to correct the dominant "technology push" trend, which was a criticism of previous programmes.

Specifically, the proposed actions will help identify the technical and economic potential of the results obtained from RTD activities and, where appropriate, provide finance for demonstration projects. The programme's activities are primarily for the benefit of SMEs and include specific measures targeted at improving the competitiveness of SME's located in the less developed regions of the Community. In general, the envisaged activities will be largely decentralized and depend heavily on local relays, such as the Community network of relay centres. Existing support mechanisms for innovation and dissemination at national, regional and local level will be improved by specific measures which can only be taken at the Community level.

The programme incorporates, extends and supplements the dissemination and exploitation activities of the specific programmes and integrates the follow-up to SPRINT and VALUE into a single programme. It will also strive to exploit all synergies with related Community projects and schemes, such as MINT, THERMIE, OPET, etc. The envisaged actions will mainly concentrate on the fields of competence established under VALUE and SPRINT, covering:

- Supply of specialized services;
- Consolidation of the support infrastructure;
- Creation of an environment favourable to the dissemination of technologies and the exploitation of RTD results.

The Commission will pay special attention to coordinating the activities of the programme with the dissemination and exploitation elements of the specific RTD programmes, in order to avoid all duplication and wastage of effort, to maintain a good geographical balance in the distribution of activities, and to ensure that existing infrastructures and competences are exploited.

Under the Fourth Framework programme, about 1% of the budgets allocated to the specific programmes are earmarked for the dissemination and utilization of the results of the programme's RTD activities.
To ensure the widest possible dissemination of the results of RTD activities under Community and national programmes; to achieve optimum exploitation by encouraging, with the assistance of the various operators concerned, the conversion of RTD results into innovations; and, the transfer of technologies to support the various initiatives launched at national or regional level, so as to give them a trans-European dimension.
Three domains:

- Dissemination and exploitation of the results of RTD research:
To promote the dissemination and trans-sectoral and transnational exploitation of results, regardless of their source, and in particular to publicize RTD activities and their results, in order to maximize their utilization and to facilitate scientific and technical cooperation in Europe:
. Strengthening of the Community network of relay centres;
. Information and dissemination service (to include an extension of the CORDIS service to incorporate new sources of information, e.g. EUREKA, COST, other international research frameworks, national contact points, etc., and multi-media documents);
. Protection of know-how acquired from Community RTD activities;
. Assistance with the exploitation of RTD results;
. The exploitation of research and the needs of society;

- Dissemination of technology to enterprises:
Measures are trans-European orientated and targeted at SMEs in the industrial and service sector, who do not have sufficient resources to participate in Community RTD activities or the direct exploitation of Community research results. This will entail the simultaneous involvement of the Technology Resource Centres, national, regional or local public organizations and suppliers of interface services, specialized advisory services and financial services:
. Transnational networks providing support for the transfer and dissemination of technology;
. An environment favouring the absorption of technologies by industry;
. Exchanges of information and experience with regard to regional, national and Community policies for the dissemination of technologies;

- The financial environment for the dissemination of technology:
To improve the European environment for financing the exploitation, adaptation and dissemination of technology:
. Indirect support measures (to include, the continuation of the Technology Performance Financing pilot project started under the SPRINT programme, support for the analysis of schemes for mobilizing private funds for the benefit of RTD research):
. Establishment of a pilot scheme to promote the transfer and exploitation of technologies by SMEs;
. The granting of technical and management experience to public and private intermediaries.
The Commission is responsible for the overall implementation of the programme, assisted by an Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. A work programme, setting out the detailed objectives to be achieved, the various stages in the programme's implementation and the funding envisaged for each implementation procedure, is drawn up by the Commission, in consultation with the Advisory Committee. Provisions may be made for specific measures aimed at improving the interaction between Community activities and the preparatory phases of certain EUREKA projects. The progress in implementing the objectives of the specific programme will be continuously monitored by the Commission, with a view to updating or modifying this work programme where necessary.

Calls for proposals for projects will be issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme. The Commission is authorized to negotiate agreements with European third countries outside the EEA and with international organizations located in Europe, with a view to involving them fully or partly in the programme or, on a project by project basis. The JRC may participate in the indirect actions of this programme.

The financial contribution of the Community will mainly cover shared-cost activities, concerted actions, specific measures and preparatory, accompanying and support measures, in accordance with the criterion laid down in the Decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme. Measures aimed at improving the financial environment for dissemination and exploitation activities will be closely coordinated with the various Community measures in this field, such as Eurotech Capital and the European Investment Fund.

Shared-cost activities will be co-funded up to a maximum of 50% of the costs and include dissemination and exploitation projects, exploitation subsidies to facilitate the exploitation of results by SMEs, and support for financing the infrastructure or installations necessary for coordinated action. Concerted activities will primarily consist of coordinating, with the aid of concertation networks, projects funded by public authorities or private bodies. Specific measures, such as those to promote standardization may qualify for a Community contribution covering up to 100% of the total costs.

The indicative breakdown of the budget allocated to the programme is as follows: Dissemination and exploitation of the results of research ECU 142 million; Dissemination of technology to enterprise ECU 136 million; The financial environment for the dissemination of technology ECU 15 million. These figures include an allocation of 7.7 to cover staff and administrative costs. A sum of ECU 37 million, representing the difference between the amount deemed necessary for the present programme and the sum allocated within the Fourth Framework Programme for Activity III, is allocated to the specific RTD programme to be carried out by means of direct action and S/T support activities in the framework of a competitive approach.

Regular assessments of the activities undertaken in the fields directly covered by this programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon the completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the success in implementing the objectives of the programme. The results of this final assessment will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.