EUROMAP is designed to conduct an analysis of national priorities and opportunities for future LE research and applications. The project brings together organisations acting as national 'focal points' from all EU/EEA countries. It will undertake to promote awareness about the potential of LE within industrial and government circles, improve synergy between LE and related national programmes, and to assess, and where possible bring closer together, national policies and frameworks in the LE area. As a result of the fieldwork to be undertaken in the participating countries, EUROMAP is expected to yield an informed view on relevant national research strands, industrial plans and expectations, and government initiatives. From this base of information, scenarios and 'opportunity maps' will be made, facilitating trans-national co-operation to the benefit of research, industry and public services. Awareness will be greatly enhanced through a series of 'national seminars' bringing together representatives from the sectors and groups targeted by the project.
Europe currently faces a double challenge: how to maintain its rich linguistic diversity, and at the same time ensure that its businesses and citizens can participate fully in the information revolution. The EU Council, in its role as representative of the member states, has been especially forthcoming in support of the importance of language in this new context. The long-standing support of linguistic research by the European Commission, through a series of research initiatives culminating in the language research and engineering segments of the Third and Fourth Framework Programmes, have begun to yield results with practical, valuable potential for a multi-lingual European information society.
Due to its linguistic diversity, Europe is in a unique position to provide tools and services to bridge linguistic barriers in an increasingly global economy. As users of those tools and services, European businesses can compete more effectively - building partnerships, supplier channels, markets, and workforces that cross the boundaries of both geography and of language. Moreover, language engineering for multi-lingual communication yields rich benefits within single language environments - as the tools to create, process and access information become available in all languages of the EU, and not just in English, or in the languages of the largest member states. This knock-on effect could profoundly affect the extent to which all citizens and workers, in all parts of Europe, enjoy the benefits of, or have the ability to participate in, the information society.
In research, Europe compares very favourably with both the US and Japan in the language domain. This is a direct consequence of the linguistic diversity of the EU and should be considered a unique competitive opportunity for Europe. US research has focused either on English, or on English paired with one or two 'strategic' second languages (Russian, Spanish). Japanese research generally ignores languages other than English or Japanese.
European research, in contrast, is strong in all the larger language groups of Europe, with developing capabilities in the smaller linguistic communities. Much of the strength of the research base is built on consistent long-term investment in EU programmes. Indeed the strength of the European research community has actually attracted inward investment, particularly from the US. Most of the major US commercial language research programmes have established one or more labs or research centres in Europe.
However, European language engineering RTD still suffers from the same constraints that hamper exploitation in other research domains particularly in the lack of effective links to the market. Exploiting Europe's linguistic advantages may be key to competitive participation in a global economy, but converting those linguistic skills and resources into economic and social advantage is still a significant challenge. Specific issues in the effective exploitation of language engineering RTD include the following:
- the potential benefits of Language Engineering are not yet widely understood, particularly in the business community, due to targeting problems
- in general, national level policies and programmes in support of RTD Language Engineering and exploitation have been relatively weak and fragmented
- the disparity between a well-established research base and a diffuse and volatile user base has made balanced collaboration between researchers, providers, and users difficult
- there is too little meaningful dialogue between the research community and their prospective customers in industry; this seriously hampers prospects for technology transfer
In spite of such obstacles, however, the last five years have seen continuous development in the language engineering sector which has evolved rapidly from basic research to the delivery of pre-competitive systems and services and, more recently, demonstrable near-market prototypes.
During the same period, the sector has confronted a major shift from a well-defined R&D constituency in which continuous participation was ensured, to an open and dynamic but ever-changing user focused environment in which one-off participation is frequently the norm and has been meeting the challenge head on.
EUROMAP is designed to address the specific issues in the effective exploitation of RTD language engineering efforts and to focus its efforts on the achievement of the following goals:
- the building of bridges between research and the marketplace
- the paving of the way toward better co-ordination of national and EU research and development policies
- the raising of awareness and stimulation of participation in national and EU RTD actions
- the positive positioning of Europe in the global marketplace
EUROMAP intends to meet its objectives in a bottom-up fashion, involving one organisation per participating country, a National Focal Point (NFP), chosen on the basis of its understanding of RTD issues and their active role in national awareness raising, dissemination of RTD results, technology transfer operations, etc. The advantage in this broadly-based approach is that it enables to investigate requirements and opportunities specific to each country, and, at the same time, to better target the local, actual or prospective language engineering base.
National-level fieldwork will be carried out by NFPs and the results of their work will be collated, analysed and integrated at the European level. Member state authorities will be consulted in the project, by exploiting links provided, for instance, through the Telematics Applications Programme and National Contact Points (NCP). NFPs will share information and consult with their national delegates throughout the project.
The problem of defining the scope of the fieldwork analysis to be both sufficiently wide to encompass the broad areas of interest while providing sufficient focus at the national level to enable significant information to be gathered is a very real one. The broad areas defined for the fieldwork are:-
- R&D policy: programmes, initiatives, trends, themes and priorities in ICT and ICT infrastructures
- public and private research programmes and themes, and
- the supply and demand sides of industry covering suppliers and users of information technology and telecommunication systems and services.
On a general level, systems and services include teleservices, multimedia information services, multimodal human communication, electronic messaging and conferencing, teleworking, electronic commerce, corporate document authoring and management, information access and navigation, access to cultural multimedia assets, aids for the elderly and disabled.
These broad areas will be fine-tuned to maintain an achievable breadth of coverage within a range of appropriate target areas chosen from a generic set of industries and sectors normally present in all member states. The generic set would include strategic and high potential IC applications in manufacturing, banking/financing/insurance, retailing, on-line information services, multimedia publishing, administration, public utilities, education and training. The following selection criteria will be used to drive this first cut at segmenting the industrial base for the fieldwork:
- the relative weight at the national level in terms of volume, growth and strategic importance
- the presence of international dimensions in supplier and/or customer environments making language-related issues a key factor in important functional areas of the business
- the existence of significant IC and Language Engineering related factors embedded within business flows and processes
- the level of competitive rivalry driving the need for finding better, cheaper and faster ways of doing business
- the presence of large IC service providers supplying and delivering on-line services and/or smaller innovative enterprises successfully servicing IT niche markets by developing custom-designed solutions.
EUROMAP is designed to support a practical and realistic view of the relationship between research and the market for products and services that may be based on research. It will take a staged approach to the accomplishment of its objectives so as to provide real, practical value as early as possible without detracting from its longer term goals.
The stakeholders in the project will benefit in the following ways:
- The Telematics Applications Programme will benefit from an explicit definition of the practical value that Language Engineering is capable of bringing to bear and also through the clear identification of specific industry sectors affording those areas of telematics application opportunity on which large corporations and SMEs might best focus their efforts and investment
- The Language Engineering sector will benefit directly by having clearly defined and documented evidence of the state of European Language Engineering RTD and industry applications development activity in progress and planned, the sector's strengths and weaknesses with regard to fulfilling its potential, and carefully considered recommendations as to where future focus and efforts might be best directed.
- Citizens are expected to benefit from EUROMAP in that Language Engineering activity will have been reviewed in the course of the project in terms of its ability to address the challenges associated with the Information Society and will have defined their specific social and business needs.
- European Industries are expected to benefit from the information gathered by EUROMAP in that they will be provided with evidence of the practical value afforded by Language Engineering technology as well as those areas of application within their organisation in which that value might be best delivered. They will also benefit from the relationships with the research community that will have been established.
EUROMAP will contribute significantly to EU industrial and social policy by providing valuable information and recommendations according to which the EU might review and reconsider future commercial strategies with regard to language engineering.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
2500 GS Den Haag
28801 Alcala De Henares