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ESPRIT : 1984 PROJECTS AND 1985 OPERATIONS ANNOUNCED
The Commission today announced the list of ESPRIT projects selected in 1984, the first year of the main European Strategic Programme for Research and Development in Information Technology. A total of 104 collaborative research projects are being given the go-ahead, subject to final signature of contracts, following the 1984 call for proposals and the ESPRIT pilot phase launched in 1983. These contracts represent a total Community financial commitment of slightly less than ECU 180 million. ESPRIT projects are co-financed equally by the Community and the industrial participants in the programme. Each of these 1984 projects brings together an average of more than five partners across Community frontiers. In total, about 270 different European companies, universities and research institutes are involved, a number of them in several projects. Universities and institutes participate in 75%, small companies in 50% and large companies (over 500 employees) in 70% of the contracts. In all cases participants are from at least two Member States and in general there is a good geographical balance of participation, reflecting the strength of proposals submitted from different parts of the Community and the increase in cooperation. The response to ESPRIT has been particularly positive. Following the adoption of the first five-year phase of the programme by the Council of Ministers on 28 February, 1984, six weeks were allowed for the submission of projects in the first year. Despite the compressed timetable, 441 transnational research proposals were submitted from all Member States in response to this first call. The projects put forward were of high quality and represented a total funding requirement nearly five times higher than the programme's financial ceiling for 1984. This allowed the independant panels of evaluators to select the 104 projects from an impressive field and the final shortlist was unanimously recommended for adoption by both the ESPRIT Management Committee, representing the EEC governments, and the ESPRIT Advisory Board, drawn from the industrial and scientific community. ESPRIT follows an annual cycle and the 1985 call for proposals is already under way, following the adoption of this year's workplan by the Council of Ministers in December. The closing date for submissions is 25 March 1985, allowing a longer time for preparation. Community funding available for new ESPRIT commitments in 1985 is ECU 215 million, out of the total Community contribution of ECU 750 million set for the first five-year phase (1984-88) of the programme. - 2 - An interesting feature of the 1985 call for proposals, is that it stresses the industrial nature that projects in ESPRIT should have. ESPRIT clearly remains a specific element of the European R&D strategy. However proposals must be encouraged to lead to demonstrable results on prototypes. This would change one of the structural flaws of European R&D, i.e. its difficulty to translate highly valued Research work into actual industrial products.