22 JANUARY 2003
The Ambassador to the Maltese Mission to the EU in Brussels, Victor Camilleri recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding through which Malta is now a full participant in the European Union eContent programme entitled.
The availability in Malta of the eContent Programme has been made possible by the direct co-ordination of the Ministry for Justice and Local Government through the eMalta Commission. The Commission is currently taking an active part in a number of EU initiatives through which international opportunities have been identified and are being promulgated in the local scenario.
eContent is a project-based programme which supports the production, use and distribution of European content (e-content) on the global networks. The Programme seeks to attain its goal by supporting the growth of a healthy and competitive EU digital content industry fit to exploit the opportunities created by new technologies.
The Programme is part of the eEurope+ Action Plan, which set the ambitious goal for the EU to become the most dynamic knowledge based economy in the world by 2010. eEurope+ is an action plan which identifies a number of strategic objectives that EU candidate countries can aspire to in order to attain an information society and economy.
Through the Ministry for Justice and Local Government, Malta has endorsed this action plan and is actively participating in the Programme working group and committees. Maltas full participation in eContent and other similar funding programmes has been made possible through Maltas application to become a full member of the EU. These kinds of programmes are the main avenue through which the EU channels its funds and resources to businesses, educational institutions and other entities.
eContent is aimed at helping to stimulate Internet usage, by increasing the availability of European digital content on the global networks to support professional, social and cultural development of citizens. The Programme promotes cultural diversity and multi-lingualism in digital content on the global networks, thus increasing the export opportunities of European content firms, through cultural and linguistic customisation.
It also promotes more effective use of information held by the public sector and seeks to provide assistance to Internet-related start-ups by organising networking activities where risk-capital providers can meet potential entrepreneurs who lack the financial resources to commercialise their ideas.
Potential participants in the Programme include public sector organisations, providers of commercial content, providers of corporate content who want to establish their global presence through eCommerce and eBusiness solutions; distributors and service providers who need content for web publishing; suppliers of language services; IT vendors providing technologies underpinning Programme related developments; Internet-related start-ups; risk-capital providers and other professional and industrial associations active in the above mentioned fields.
eContent presents a major opportunity to the local business community. The Programme is market-oriented, and concentrates on commercially available technologies to close the gap between research and market. This means that all those operators involved in sectors mentioned can attain assistance to develop their products and services through EU funding on specific projects.
The proliferation of eCommerce is one of the major thrusts of the eMalta Commission. Within this context the Commission is actively working to launch a number of projects including an eCommerce Awareness Programme for the indigenous industry, an eTrust Scheme and an eMarketplace. The latter will consist of a portal through which the business community can establish its online presence by taking advantage of special programmes of assistance. Complimentary to these initiatives the eContent Programme will be of benefit to commercial entities who are currently seeking to enhance their online product in order to effectively compete in the global virtual marketplace.
Local entities can participate in the eContent Programme by teaming up with organisations from the EU Member States and / or Candidate Countries. A multinational project proposal can then be presented to the EU Commission for evaluation. Positive evaluation of the project proposal will permit the consortium to benefit from financial and technical assistance. Proposals can be submitted via a continuous submission call or through a fixed call. Project proposals submitted through the fixed call receive the majority of the Programme funding. A fixed call for proposals is currently open and will close on 21 March 2003.
In recognition of the efforts undertaken by local entities in the field of EU-related Programmes, the eMalta Commission has teamed up with the Malta Council for Science and Technology in order to co-ordinate and offer the programme on the local scenario.
Minister Austin Gatt said that eContent is another tangible step towards realising the benefits of Maltas accession in the EU. Dr Gatt mentioned how through the governments outsourcing policy, the private sector was being provided with a unique opportunity to take part in the realisation of the e-government programme. He continued that the governments commitment towards establishing a knowledge-based economy was clearly portrayed through the partnership agreements with the leading names in the ICT sector like Microsoft and Cisco Systems. For further information on how to actively participate in the eContent programme contact the eMalta Commission on email@example.com or the Malta Council for Science and Technology on firstname.lastname@example.org.