Brussels, 16 Oct 2003
The eContent programme has successfully demonstrated the potential economic benefits of developing a European multimedia content industry, a mid-term evaluation programme report has concluded.
On 10 October, the Commission adopted the results of the eContent programme evaluation, which assess the extent to which the programme has been effective in meeting its objectives in the first two years of implementation.
The eContent programme was launched in 2001 to encourage growth and development of the digital content industry in Europe. With a budget of 100 million euro and a four year timeframe, the programme has three action lines: improving access to and expanding the use of public sector information; enhancing content production in a multilingual and multicultural environment; and increasing the dynamism of the digital content market.
Based on an assessment of the 58 projects co-financed during the first two years of the programme, the report outlines several successful elements of the programme, followed by a number of recommendations.
Firstly, the report finds that the programme is well managed overall, and that any problems encountered during the programme's implementation were relatively minor. It also describes the programme as well thought out, with a hierarchy of objectives ranging from the political framework of facilitating 'access for all' to the Internet, through to the operational goals of the action lines and the results expected from the individual projects selected.
Secondly, the report highlights the uniqueness of the projects funded, claiming that the programme managed to stimulate projects that would not have happened in the same form. For their part, participating organisations reported the benefits of being involved in transnational networking projects.
Thirdly, the fact that the majority of those participating in projects are mainly small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the report claims, is proof that the programme has successfully reached its target audience. Indeed, the report finds that SMEs represented 43 per cent of participants, followed by public sector organisations. In terms of funding, 44 per cent went to SMEs, with 29 per cent being received by companies employing less than 50 people.
However, despite the overall success of the programme so far, the report suggests a number of improvements for the current programme. They include reducing payment delays to participant organisations, and reassessing the financial requirements imposed on participants, which the report claims are too strict for SMEs and start-ups. Improving the system of feedback to unsuccessful bidders; highlighting the commercial dimension of projects; and encouraging increased collaboration among national contact points are also recommended in the report.
Not only does the report provide recommendations on the present programme, it also suggests lines of action to take for a follow on programme. Most notably, it suggests that the Commission should 'maximise impact' with a set of given resources, as well as by restricting the potential target group.
Taking note of the findings and recommendations made in the evaluation report, particularly regarding future eContent activities, the Commission says a proposal for a follow on programme is already under consideration. In addition, in light of the report's findings, the Commission calls on the other EU institutions to give further recognition and backing to the eContent programme on account of its value for EU social and economic development.
To read the report in full, please consult the following web address: