Despite of the efforts so far, scientific communities of Central and East European countries and of old EU MS form two distinct groups and are not well integrated. There are many reasons for this - political decisions taken in the past, cultural and language diversity, different levels of computerisation, etc. As a result, during the last decades most of the Central and East European countries developed their own aerospace programmes and gained lots of experience but unfortunately, the achieved expertise and results are not well known. The cooperation between European countries is not at as high and productive level as is necessary. An enormous amount of work is still needed to achieve fruitful cooperation between old and new MS and ACC on one hand and between ACC on the other.
The project objectives were:
- To map the aerospace area in 13 Central and East European countries - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey, and thus to save their aerospace experience and heritage by creating a detailed database of researchers, research organisations, universities, industry parties and SMEs, involved in aerospace activities or possessing aerospace expertise;
- To create, maintain and update an Aeronautics and Space Portal, containing the above mentioned database. This portal does not duplicate the existing ones as it is the first and only one that contains the entire aerospace information for above listed countries in one place;
- To strengthen the network of NCP, researchers and liaison officers though the organisation of brokerage events and seminars;
- To edit and publish an electronic Newsletter as a medium for the aerospace community of the above listed countries;
- To mobilise the human and material aerospace potential of these countries and establish and reinforce networks of their high quality research centres.
The START consortium consisted of ten partners, representing nine countries. All partners had dedicated their efforts to the successful fulfilment of START project.
The work performed during in the course of the two years included:
- Mapping campaign and establishment of a user friendly, interactive, searchable database of researchers, research organisations, universities, industry parties, small and middle enterprises, etc., involved in aerospace activities or possessing aerospace expertise in 13 countries;
- Second important part of START activity was building and operation of START project portal (http://start.stil.bas.bg). The portal was a physical place where results of mappings of the aerospace area were and would be kept. It was also used to enhance project communication flow as well as the communication flow between the EU services and the project consortium. Project portal is the place where all information about the project – minutes of meetings and brokerage events, presentations, copies of newsletters, photos, hyperlinks to other organizations connected with aerospace research and/or applications, etc such as AeroSME, are available. The portal was and still is regularly visited.
The project has been evaluated as more than highly successful. With its activities, START project definitely contributed a lot to the European Community's Research Policy and in European Space Policy.
START succeeded in mapping the aerospace field in 13 Central and East European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey) and thus has done its best toward saving their aerospace experience, expertise and heritage. A user friendly, interactive portal and a searchable database of researchers, research organizations, universities, industry parties, small and middle enterprises, etc., involved in aerospace activities or possessing aerospace expertise in these 13 countries was also created. In March 2006 the database contained over 500 entries, i.e. 277 organisations and 234 individuals.
Organising 5 brokerage events and workshops, the project contributed to the strengthening of the network of NCP, researchers and liaison officers form all European countries. It helped in creating a better personal communications between Aeronautics and Space NCPs from all over Europe that would be used during the 7FP.
The project's portal (http://start.stil.bas.bg/index_bg.html), registered 2 391 unique entries till 10 May2006. Preliminary estimations at the time showed that the numbers were expected to rise up to
4 699 toward end of 2006. Despite the fact that the project is over, the STIL-BAS, START project coordinating organisation set out to continue to keep the portal during the 7FP. The database will be enriched searchable and available for use free of charge during the years following the completion of this project.
The main exploitable result that START project has generated is a detailed database of research organisations, universities, industry parties, small and middle enterprises (SME), individuals, etc., involved in aerospace activities or possessing aerospace expertise in the 13 Central and East European countries.