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Open Contracting TransActions in the New Economy

Objective

In order to help Europe's economy towards globalisation - accelerated by emerging online electronic commerce systems enhancing the speed for the usage of secure exchange of critical and relevant data - the OCTANE-project focuses on providing a set of secure business applications. OCTANE aims to deploy and validate an Open Contracting Service (OCS) to establish electronic contracts due to the needs of European SMEs affected by huge costs for building new European and global business relationships. OCTANE provides a solution by leveraging unproven new ICT-technology into user-friendly applications, and developing business models for encouraging access to low cost and reliable business information by improving the "time to contract".

The solution consists of three different clustered components:
- the OCS software which supports contract composition and negotiation,
- the Electronic Notary for certification and verification,
- the Business Information Services (BIS) to support SMEs in evaluating potential contractors.

The components will be validated within trials from three different business sectors. The trials are structured by needs and requirements of users and involve the participation of technical solution providers and system integrators, national CCIs, and SMEs working in a virtual enterprise environment.

Objectives:
Octane addresses to the needs of European and international SMEs that face prohibitive costs for the establishment of trustworthy trade relationships with international business partners. Octane will deploy and validate an Open Contracting Service that supports SMEs to establish contracts electronically in a secure environment. Online business information in a standardised form will be included and performed for the evaluation of business partners during the contracting process. This service will be made available by trusted organisations like business information providers. The Open Contracting Service also comprises a co-ordination function -the Electronic Notary- to organise and monitor the signing process for contracts using electronic signatures. These different functions will be combined in a set of three clustered components. Existing software solutions will be contributed by OCTANE partners such that the project will be able to put the main emphasis on integration, validation and evaluation of functions and results for three sector-specific trials.

Work description:
OCTANE is a Trial project under the IST programme that uses innovative ICT technologies to improve the international collaboration of SMEs. The main focus of this support is on the usage of online company information, electronic notaries and electronic contracts. The OCTANE-project is structured around three clustered core-components: Online company information (i.e. financial and legal business information) will be made available through ComNetMedia, the Electronic Notary will be provided by Cefriel, as a newly developed technology to co-ordinate the signing of contracts, and the negotiation of contracts will be supported by an Open Contracting Service, contributed by Ponton. These three services are combined to an integrated platform in order to drastically reduce transaction efforts and costs for SMEs that collaborate at an international level with changing business partners. The trial users of Octane come from three different business sectors and comprise of EDIFICE, a Swiss planning service that will use OCTANE electronic contracts as a basis for their franchising system, MACROFARMA, a Portuguese import/export company which trades with various national and European partners, and ComNetMedia, which will use the OCTANE trial to close training contracts between CCIs and member companies online in a cost- and time-efficient way. NetUnion, a Swiss systems integrator and software development company, will develop the basic platform for EDIFICE, and assess and integrate OCTANE technologies components for the Swiss trial. OCTANE will adopt a methodology breakthrough taking a user-driven approach, starting with a requirement analysis (phase 1) to examine how electronic contracting can be used for OCTANE end-users. It continues with a detailed planning of the trials in terms of technical infrastructure, end-user training, customisation and integration efforts for the technology providers, and yardsticks for trial measurement (phase 2). A third phase will comprise of an in-house trial in order to test the software integration and to prepare the public trial in phase 4. Finally the main phase 4 will be the running of the public trial, and it's analysis and evaluation based on the yardsticks and measures that have been defined in phase 2. Together with the opening of the trial to the public, dissemination and exploitation will start (phase 5).

Milestones:
1. Finalisation of user requirement phase. The user requirement analysis provides an overview on how electronic contracting can be used for end users;
2. Finalisation of technology customisation and integration phase;
3. Finalisation of user trial deployment and training. As main milestone and result, the OCTANE trial will integrate three technologies: Provision of structured business information, e-notarisation, and an e-contracting service in order to show at which extent transactions overhead can be reduced for collaboration oriented service providers;
4. Measurement and evaluation of results. The trial results will be evaluated based on metrics defined during trial preparation;
5. Finalisation of exploitation activities with project end.

Funding Scheme

ACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures

Coordinator

COMNETMEDIA AG
Address
Emil-figge-strasse 86
44227 Dortmund
Germany

Participants (5)

CEFRIEL - CONSORZIO PER LA FORMAZIONE E LA RICERCA IN INGEGNERIA DELL' INFORMAZIONE
Italy
Address
Via Fucini Renato 2
20133 Milano
EDIFICE GENERAL PLANNING SA
Switzerland
Address
Avenue De Rumine 7
1005 Lausanne
MACROFARMA EXPORT IMPORT, LDA
Portugal
Address
Vilarinho De Cima - Gandra
4580 Paredes
NETUNION S.A.R.L.
Switzerland
Address
20 Av. Des Figuiers
1007 Lausanne
PONTON CONSULTING GMBH
Germany
Address
Stresemannstrasse 163
22769 Hamburg