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UPCASE - Users plat-form and development of co-operative applications for the social economy (Second phase: January 2004 - December 2005)

Research project I2/2F/108 (Research action I2)

Contract I2/2F/108 :

Duration of the contract :


Partners :

  • Université de Liège (Coordinator of the project)
  • Arafox SA 
  • ESNET asbl 
  • Mens- en Milieuvriendelijk Ondernemen 

Description :

The UPCASE project, which stands for User Platform and Collaborative Applications for the Social Economy Sector, is aimed at the Belgian social economy sector in its entirety (French and Dutch-speaking, traders and non-traders). The project’s objective is to provide these organisations with the opportunity to acquire a set of computerised tools which will help them to discover new channels for the promotion and distribution of their activities and to encourage and support partnerships between the different parties concerned.

In essence, the project starts from the observation of a significant risk of “digital fracture”, which, because of cost and usage factors, would see the social economy sector left behind by the wave of computerisation. It is all about preventing technical barriers from standing in the way of creativity and the entrepreneurial instincts of those concerned and providing a technological setting which then affords the sector total autonomy in which to embark upon its own initiatives in a decentralised manner. For this reason, the computerised tools concerned possess the common characteristic of having all been developed in open source code under GPL (free software) licence terms.

During the first phase of the project (2002-2003), three test-associations were chosen to be the object of special support. This consisted of identifying their needs in terms of new technologies and then, by means of an initiative of so-called “iterative cycles”, helping them to acquire the tools that they judged to be most suited to their situations. These selected tools include functionalities such as website management, document management, managing a shared agenda, mailing lists, etc. They are all user-friendly and can be used and administrated by end users with no special programming knowledge.

By carrying out this research and development, compilation and adaptation work on prototype tools with open source codes, the project aims to bring these tools to maturity, adapt them to the specific characteristics of the sector and to be able to provide them freely without licence rights. However, this technical element is complemented by a significant socio-organisational and training element aimed at placing the end user at the heart of the system. Through methodologies of analysis of the needs of users and comprehension of the contexts in which they operate, the project also aims to ensure that the technical solutions fit into the operational specificities of the social economy sector. For regardless of the efficiency of a computerised tool, it only acquires its meaning and usage from the moment when it is appropriated by the end users.

The second phase of the project aims to take advantage of the results of the experimentation of phase 1 to distribute the tools on a wider scale to 40 organisations within the social economy. This phase centres on further developing and systematising the media intended to support the users, such as the adaptation of the tools to the specific characteristics of the social economy sector, the development of training supports, models for the analysis of organisational impact linked to the introduction of new technologies, etc. It also involves creating the sectorial and organisational conditions of replicability and wide scale distribution, observing the factors for success or failure of such computerisation initiatives and encouraging multiple actors to support the continuation of the project after the current funding period.


- Contact person (project's coordinator):

Université de Liège (ULg)
Laboratoire d’Etudes sur les Nouvelles Technologies, l’Innovation et le Changement (LENTIC)
François Pichault
Boulevard du Rectorat 19 B51
4000 LIEGE
Phone : 04 366 30 70
Fax : 04 366 29 47


Coordinator Université de Liège (ULg) Laboratoire d’Etudes sur les Nouvelles Technologies, l’Innovation et le Changement (LENTIC)

Partner 1 Arafox scrl

Partner 2 Esnet asbl

Partner 3 MeMO vzw

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