Brussels, 26 May 2005
The European Union is to provide 660,000 euro funding to a new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project designed to strengthen EU leadership and international cooperation in free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) and standards research.
The FLOSSWorld project (free/libre/open source software: worldwide impact study) is a specific support action funded under the information society technologies (IST) strand of FP6. It builds on two previous EU initiatives (FLOSS and FLOSSPOLS) which looked at why and how open source software is used. While those projects focussed on Europe, however, FLOSSWorld aims to gather knowledge on developments in the rest of the world.
To that end, the project brings together 17 partners from 11 countries - five European (the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Bulgaria, and Croatia) and the rest international (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, and South Africa). The intention is 'to exploit research and policy complementarities to improve international cooperation, by building a global constituency of policy-makers and researchers,' according to the consortium, which is coordinated by the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
The partners are aware that without specific and practical actions, many large international consensus-building exercises can lose momentum after their initial launch. To avoid this, FLOSSWorld is built around three main research topics: human capacity building, which will investigate the FLOSS communities in each partner region; software development, focussing on technical, organisational and business differences between countries; and e-government policy, analysing public policies towards FLOSS, open standards and interoperability.
The first phase of the two-year project will focus on implementing these research objectives, while the second phase will concentrate on analysis of the results, developing concrete future collaborations and organising workshops and other activities to build an international research and policy development community.
The original FP5 FLOSS project attracted considerable international interest and led to follow-up projects being launched - FLOSS- US and FLOSS-Japan. The coordinators of those initiatives, Stanford University and Mitsubishi Research respectively, are listed as external supporters of FLOSSWorld. Finally, the partners stress that despite the already broad global coverage of FLOSSWorld, they hope to broaden the scope of international cooperation well beyond the current consortium members.
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