EU project helps regions become more attractive in global communications economy

October 6, 2003

Brussels, 03 Oct 2003

An EU project has designed a database and toolkit aimed at regional actors, which provides information on how to prepare and implement regional development policies that make full use of the opportunities offered by new global communications.

The EMERGENCE project - Estimation and mapping of employment relocation in a global economy in the new communications environment - received 2.1 million euro under the Information Society Technology (IST) programme of the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), and involved research teams from six Member States, as well as Hungary, Canada and Australia.

Ursula Huws, project coordinator, explained to CORDIS News the impetus for the project. 'The emergence of electronic services and eWork environments holds huge socio-economic potential for regional development: depending on their infrastructure and human resources, regions can provide the right environment for call centres, software and data processing companies, thus attracting investment and creating new jobs.'

'However, there are also disadvantages - companies can relocate to another part of the world and jobs can disappear very quickly,' she added. 'As there is no existing information on the trends in these sectors, regions don't know the criteria used in relocating business services, and so they cannot make informed decisions or design strong strategy plans.'

Recognising these issues, the consortium carried out a series of case studies and a survey of around 8,000 employers in 15 EU countries and three acceding countries to see how well equipped each country or region is in terms of information technology infrastructure, skills, and information and communications technologies (ICT) workers. From the data collected, the project consortium developed an 'eReadiness' database to help regions and countries compare their situation to EU and global averages, and a tool kit to help regional authorities plan development strategies.

'As we are an accompanying measure, we were very interested in making sure that the data we collected could be accessed in a user friendly form,' said Ms Huws. 'So you will see that in the database a user only has to click a button to produce a graph or a table with information about their position in the eWork environment.'

The information in the toolkit has been divided into two distinct parts: a structured overview of the experience and processes of 'eWork' and regional development, including the main research and concepts underpinning the role 'eWork' plays within the broader process of regional development in the knowledge economy; and a guide through the 'eWork' relocation process and how to prepare and implement a regional development strategy based upon 'eWork'. The kit also provides a guide to funding sources, and links to a glossary of the main terms used in the toolkit.

Ms Huws told CORDIS News that the project as a whole has attracted a lot of interest from within and outside Europe, and since its inception, its services have been extended to Canada and Australia. The project consortium has also been approached by ten Latin American countries.

Unfortunately, the consortium failed to win funding in the first IST call under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and is depending on contributions from a few national agencies and the Commission's Asia ITC programme. 'This is a real shame because we want to provide free access to our database and services, but without sufficient funds we are unable to keep them up to date,' explained Ms Huws. The project consortium is currently assessing the feasibility of submitting another proposal for FP6.

For further information, please consult the following web address:
http:///www.emergence.nu

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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