Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To develop priorities for research projects of common industrial interest in the European multimedia educational software sector.


The task force on multimedia educational software is one of several established on the initiative of Commissioners Cresson (Research, education and training), Bangemann (Industry, telecommunications and information technologies) and Kinnock (Transport) for the purpose of developing priorities for research projects of common industrial interest. The task forces are focused on clearly defined areas and are aimed at, firstly, identifying, and then coordinating, the research efforts being made in each area (at both private and public level) in the individual Member States and within the framework of relevant European Union programmes, particularly research carried out under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme.

The rationale behind the task forces is to redress the current situation where only 13% of public research budgets are allocated to research projects involving European cooperation, as opposed to 87% for strictly national research. Greater coordination between the Member States' research activities is necessary to reduce expensive and wasteful duplication of effort and will, ultimately, improve Europe's industrial competitiveness in the global economy. The first task forces were set up in early 1995 and cover six areas: multimedia educational software; the car of the future; the new generation of aeroplanes; vaccines and virus-based diseases; the train of the future; and transport intermodality. The list is open-ended and new task forces may be established in the future. These may cover such issues as clean technologies, information society applications, construction materials, the maritime industry, etc.

In the fast-growing multimedia educational software sector, European resources and creativity are diluted by fragmented economic and cultural markets, a compartmentalized school market, an unfavourable regulatory environment and, in some cases, teaching products which do not always meet the expectations of the institutions using them.

Against this background, the first aim of the task force on Multimedia educational software is to assess:

- The nature of what is on offer (publishers, media, distribution channels) and the nature of demand (families, schools, universities, undertakings and professional training centres);
- The nature of support offered by the Member States themselves or at the European level to encourage the production, distribution and use of multimedia educational software, and support on offer by their main competitors.

Following this, a number of recommendations are to be drawn up which should result in the implementation of an action plan aimed at mobilizing funds available at national and European level in a more coordinated manner, so as to promote R&D, dissemination and innovation activities. This may include proposals for combining selected projects within appropriate specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme.


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As a first step, the task forces are responsible for assessing the situation in their specific domain, preparing an inventory of actual research efforts and defining priorities for research following intensive consultations with industry and users. On the basis of this analysis, a scheme for combining priority projects with the relevant specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme will be drawn up.

At present, the task forces do not, themselves, manage or fund projects; they will, nonetheless, be able to influence the content of the remaining calls for proposals under the Fourth Framework Programme and the structure and content of the Fifth Framework Programme.

Eventually, the task forces could make use of various provisions contained in the R&D title of the Treaty on European Union: Article 130k which authorizes the establishment of supplementary R&D programmes involving the participation of certain Member States only, Article 130l which provides for Community participation in R&D programmes undertaken by several Member States or Article 130n which permits the Community to establish joint undertakings for research purposes.
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