The main aim of AGORA is to put in place a telematics based service providing small + medium sized organisations with support for their business and organisation needs. Project partners will integrate information, consultancy and training services offered via direct access or intermediary bodies. Besides a core component providing the common facilities, value-added services (such as training, exporting, teleworking, administrations) will help small and medium sized organisations solve real problems using on-line access to sources like training material and legal expertise. ISO local-level "one-stop shops" will be networked in 25 regional support units, all linked at a European level. Partnership assistance will cover issues like copyright and teleworking.
Main objective of the project
The main objective of the AGORA project is to put into place a telematics-based service providing Small and Medium sized Organisations (SMOs) One-Stop-Shop support for their development and productivity needs. This One-Stop-Shop support will integrate information, consultancy and training services in solutions offered both through direct access and through intermediary organisations. The telematics-based service will be self-sustaining by project end.
The AGORA telematics-based service
The AGORA Service, which will be developed, tested and administered by this project is composed of two types of service components:
- The AGORA Core Service (ACS). This provides the common facilities which constitutes "the backbone" of the AGORA Service; it is both the main "back office" environment and the basic service platform for providers and end-user SMOs.
- The AGORA Value-added Services (AVAS). The AVAS build upon the features of the ACS, integrating specific functionalities to provide to SMOs direct on-line access to tested information sources and teleservices such as on-line access to training material, telework with legal consultants, etc. The AGORA AVAS are derived from concrete problems, which have been identified as primary preoccupations of SMO managers. Each AVAS will be validated by at least 300 users at the verification phase and with at least 3 000 at the demonstration phase.
The AGORA Value Added Services will be focused in this project on the following areas:
- Access to competences - e.g. Training (through gateways to) publishers
- Market opportunities - e.g. Export (from) remote areas (using teleservices)
- Improve work with partners - e.g. (Telework with) teleprofessionals
- Relations with economic actors - e.g. (Teleguidance to) Administrations
The AGORA network: a network of networks
Three categories of intermediation have been identified for delivering to SMOs an AGORA Service close to their expectations and real needs:
1. Local level
The 'One-Stop-Shop (OSS)' concept is the backbone to this local service.
This concept has been already well-recognised, since the AGORA project brings together more than 150 One-Stop-Shops.
2. Regional level
The OSSs dispersed throughout the EU will cooperate and liaise at regional level via regional user organisations or 'Regional Support Units (RSUs)'. The network's added-value will be tested with 25 RSUs managed by AGORA partners located in 12 Member States of the EU.
3. European level
The European level will ensure the supply of resources and competences which are not normally found at regional level, including the expert assistance to the project on technological issues and issues like copyrights, teleworking or specialised information brokerage. An European association, SMILENET, grouping the partners engaged in the project, will coordinate and administer this level of intermediation.
- End-User SMO acceptance of the AGORA Service, measurable in terms of the following project benchmarks: 50.000 SMOs using the services provided, generating revenues to AGORA Service operators of 3 Million ECU/year after the project's end;
- Intermediary bodies' integration of the AGORA Service into their activities, measurable in terms of the following project benchmarks: by the project end the AGORA network will be composed of 50 Regional SMO Service organisations acting as official AGORA Regional Support Units (RSUs) and 250 local service organisations acting as official AGORA One-Stop-Shop (OSSs), accepting the obligations of the AGORA Service Charter and paying a franchising fee for the services provided by the network;
- Providers' commercial engagement in the AGORA Service, measurable in terms of the following project benchmarks: 100 Consultants, experts and professional, 50 Publishers of multimedia material and 50 On-Line service providers and/or Telecom Operators will accept to pay for the promotion, support and intermediation offered by the AGORA network generating revenues to AGORA Service operators of 1Million ECU/year after the project's end.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
W1A 1AA London
6221 CP Maastricht
SO9 4WW Southampton