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Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Begins in Prague

Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Begins in Prague

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, February 1 /PRNewswire/ --

-Event Brings Together European Government Leaders to Discuss Progress Towards the Goals of the Lisbon Agenda and Highlights Microsoft Public-Sector Programmes

Microsoft Corp. along with the Honourable Stanislav Gross, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, today opened the second European Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) in Prague. The two-day event, brings together top government and businesses leaders from around the region with the goal of driving discussion around how the private sector can work in cooperation with local, regional and central governments to help develop e-government solutions. The GLF will focus on the strategic aims of the Lisbon Agenda and provide a platform for the private sector and government to explore the partnerships necessary for success in achieving the EU's policy goals and boosting economic growth.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )

Jean-Philippe Courtois, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), opened the event today in Prague. Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, and Gerri Elliott, Microsoft corporate vice president for worldwide public sector, will both present keynotes at the event that will underscore the company's commitment to meeting the unique needs of governments worldwide and to continuing expansion of innovative government programmes that support economic opportunities.

"The goals of the Lisbon Agenda, to harness technology for social and economic progress, are goals that Microsoft shares," Gates said before the event. "We recognise our responsibilities as a corporate citizen, and through initiatives such as the GLF, we are listening carefully to our government partners and working hard to support their efforts with responsive technologies and programmes. We are committed to continuing and furthering these efforts."

In support of the Lisbon Agenda's goals to increase partnerships between industry, government and customers, Courtois highlighted the broad availability of the European Union Grants Advisor (EU Grants Advisor) programme. Launched three years ago as a pilot programme, the EU Grants Advisor is a collaborative effort led by Microsoft to help small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), as well as local and regional governments, to better understand and use EU funding opportunities at the international, national and regional level. The programme has been successful in helping SMEs in Poland, Spain, and Hungary and just last week the programme was expanded to France. The EU Grants Advisor reinforces Microsoft's commitment to investing in Europe, encouraging economic growth, and helping businesses to realise their potential through technology adoption.

"The majority of businesses in Europe are Small and Medium Enterprises and these companies are the driving force behind the creation of new and better jobs, as well as the force behind stimulating competitiveness and innovation," said Courtois. "With the EU Grants Advisor programme, we aim to stimulate the growth and progress of these important business owners in Europe, a key way to help foster a thriving knowledge based economy."

Over 20 million SMEs currently conduct business in the 25 EU member states, employing in excess of 122 million people. Averaged across the EU, no more than 45 per cent of these small businesses are aware of the EU funds available to them; only about 4 per cent of SMEs actually apply for grants; and a mere 1 per cent are successful in their application (and a recent report tells us that that number is decreasing). With this in mind, the EU Grants Advisor has been developed to increase awareness and understanding of financial support opportunities. Through a dedicated SME website, business owners can find information about the various EU funds and can start to better ascertain which funds they may be eligible for. In addition, the initiative offers local independent and specialised consultancy regarding the grants available for particular technology projects; helps business owners define their technology needs and appropriate solutions; and provides a service that helps with the formalities and steps for technology grant applications.

"The training and the predefined templates provided by Microsoft facilitated the identification of the most appropriate grant and reduced the necessary administration of our clients connected to the EU funds applications," said Robert Bobrovniczki, sales manager at VT-SOFT Ltd, a Microsoft Certified Partner in Hungary. "That was a great help for our clients (mainly Hungarian SMEs) to implement customised IT solutions."

Microsoft also announced the participation of Italy's Ministry of the Interior to the Government Security Program (GSP) and expects to announce another two GSP participants at the time of the GLF. Launched in January 2003 and with at least 60 countries eligible, the GSP is a no-cost initiative that provides participating national governments and international organisations with access to Windows and Office source code to conduct comprehensive security reviews of Microsoft products. To date, 36 governments and organisations around the world are participating in the programme.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, February 1 /PRNewswire/ --

Additional information of today's announcements is available on Microsoft's EMEA Press Centre website at: http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre and at the virtual press room: http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre/glfprague .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)

Microsoft has operated in EMEA since 1982. In the region Microsoft employs more than 12,000 people in over 55 subsidiaries, delivering products and services in more than 139 countries and territories.

This material is for informational purposes only. Microsoft Corp. disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to use of the material for other purposes. Microsoft Corp. shall not, at any time, be liable for any special, direct, indirect or consequential damages, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other action arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of the material. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting any kind of warranty.

NOTE: Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Web site: http://www.microsoft.com

Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft Rapid Response Team, +1-503-443-7070, or [email protected], for Microsoft; or Microsoft EMEA Response Centre, +44-870-243-0515, or [email protected], for Microsoft/ /NOTE TO EDITORS: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft in EMEA, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/emea or the EMEA Press Centre at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre . Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at the time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact the Microsoft EMEA Press Office at +44-870-243-0515 or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/contactus . If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft Corp., please visit the Microsoft web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft's corporate information pages./ /Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO , AP Archive: http://photoarchive.ap.org , PRN Photo Desk, [email protected]/

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