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Conference reports. IST 99 - HELSINKI, 22-24 November 1999, Information Society Technologies (IST) Conference
Keywords: Conferences, Information, Information technology, Finland
IST 99 - HELSINKI, 22-24 November 1999, Information Society Technologies (IST) Conference
How radically will the revolutionary development of the Information Society transform our everyday lives? What are the likely changes brought by the information and communication technology applications and services that are being developed at a breathtaking speed? How can we obtain full benefit of the new technologies in terms of new jobs, prosperity and competitiveness, quality of life for people of all ages? How to assure better security? Answers to these questions and many more were sought in Helsinki, from 22 to 24 November, on the occasion of the IST 99 Conference, organised by the Information Society Directorale General of the European Commission in co-operation with the Finnish National Technology Agency (Tekes).
A great number of the world's leading IT-specialists, industrialists politicians and Internet-gurus were invited to the Finnish capital to debate during three days the visions and actions needed to shape the future of the Information Society. The IST 99 conference is said to be the largest information society-related conference in Europe and was opened by Mr Erkkl Lllkanen, Member of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and Information Society, together with Mr Erkkl Tuomioja, Minister of Trade and Industry of Finland.
IST 99 was organised in Helsinki on the occasion of the Finnish Council Presidency as follow-up on the success of the IST 98 Conference held in Vienna. As in the previous year, the conference attracted a great number of representatives from leading information technology companies, academia and government. It opened windows on the future of the Information Society in terms of technologies, applications and services, legal and regulatory frameworks, visionary scenarios of how people will live in the future, emerging job opportunities, how business will be competitive, and how governments will serve the citizens. Together with the 4000m2 exhibition, the IST 99 Conference offered a vast array of information to everybody interested in discovering how tomorrow's society will look like. Parallel sessions and workshops covered interesting themes such as globalisation/localisation. education, youth, work, employment, inclusion of old and disabled, international co-operation, electronic commerce, policy and regulatory aspects, health, quality of life, etc.
The exhibition, which was open to everybody, demonstrated the results from the European Commission's Research & Development Programmes in information and communications technologies. The results of some 80 projects were on show. Special villages, pavilions and info stands covered different themes such as partner search for collaborate R&D, and the European IST Prize. Important Finnish technology applications and research activities were presented in the "Meeting Finland" pavilion. In addition, several non-EU countries presented their research activities. Some highly interactive music and image-generating technologies were hosted in the "Interaction Cafè".
The Investment Forum, organised in parallel with the conference sessions and workshops, offered an opportunity for promising European Information Society technology ventures to come together and to meet leading investors, advisors and industrialists. IST companies seeking capital presented their business and fund-raising plans. The forum also included, discussions on Europe's high-tech investment prospects, processes and policies.
A special highlight of this three-day event was the 1999 European IST Prize award ceremony. It was held on 23 November 1999 with the participation of high level representatives of the European Commission and the Government of Finland. This year's prizes of 200,000 Euro each was for the most "Novel products with a high information technologies content and evident market potential". The EIST Prize is recognised for its excellence, objectivity and immediate relevance to business. The competition is organised jointly by the Information Society Technologies programme of the European Commission and Euro-CASE, the European Council of Applied Sciences and Engineering.