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Revolution in progress: Europe’s software community assesses digital advances

Berlin, October 12, 2001

Note: This press release is also available in German and French.

ITEA Symposium Berlin 2001 press release 12-10-2001 - 1700 word-document - 476 kB


The foundations for a digital Europe are being built on software R&D, and on October 11 and 12 two hundred and thirty top software researchers and policy-makers met in Berlin to review progress so far. The occasion, which took place at the city's Brandenburgische Akademie at Gendarmenmarkt, was the second annual symposium of ITEA – Information Technology for European Advancement, the premier programme for co-operative research and development in software-intensive systems in Europe.


ITEA coordinates industry-driven pre-competitive research in pursuit of its mission to establish European leadership in embedded and distributed software. ITEA was created within EUREKA, a long-standing research framework, supported by 31 European countries, set up to bolster European competitiveness. At the symposium distinguished speakers from four countries described Europe’s considerable strengths in software-intensive systems, but also spoke of an urgent need for further cooperation, coordination and training.


Professor Dr. Klaus-Dieter Vöhringer, Daimler-Chrysler Board Member for Research and Technology, said that now that ‘smart’ devices control over 80% of the functions in vehicles, software is driving the future of the automotive industry. Using the tantalising example that software-driven sensors will one day make driving virtually accident-free, he called for greater cooperation between manufacturers and suppliers in setting the common standards that are needed to enable diverse components to ‘talk’ to each other.


Drs. Remi H. Bourgonjon, Philips Consumer Electronics’ Senior VP for Software Technology, gave a glimpse of the future, explaining how new technologies and market forces are combining to create numerous electronic products with complex open architectures. He predicted that product and business borderlines will become increasingly ‘fuzzy’, and concluded with a challenge to management: "Whereas the old management was about ensuring control, the new will be about making sense out of chaos."


Dr. Christof Ebert, Director of Software Co-ordination at Alcatel, also stressed the importance of business models. The Internet revolution is not about the latest innovations in software technology, he claimed. Instead, it was all about reaching broad new audiences with easy-to-use, flexible software.


Two other speakers stressed the urgent need for rigorous software engineering and training. Professor Dr. Dieter Rombach, head of the Fraunhofer Institute of Experimental Software Engineering in Kaiserslautern, Germany, called for substantial investments in software engineering as the "production technology of the 21st Century." The widening skills gap was signalled as a serious problem by Professor Alfonso Fuggetta of Milan Polytechnic University. If the software revolution wasn't to run out of steam in Europe, both speakers said, recruitment and training at all levels was vital.


There were also demonstrations of the way embedded software is changing the software landscape of Europe, improving the way we communicate and enhancing the quality of people’s lives. They came in an exhibition of ITEA projects featuring a wide variety of platforms and applications. Some examples: Co-VAR – a user-friendly system that helps multimedia teams work together on advanced productions – allows the creation of virtual environments without the need for programming skills. The Digital Head-end project makes cable-based systems fully broadband and interactive by squeezing multiple high-quality, interactive TV and data channels into a single stream. RTIPA adds rich functionality to telephony over the Internet and prioritises routing, permitting exchange of real-time webcam images and high-quality, interactive voice and data services. TASSC puts multiple applications onto a single smartcard so that users can, for example, access security-controlled buildings and banking services with the card they also use when paying for gas, car parking and in cafeterias. And NETCARE is creating a European standard for hospital information services, providing secure remote access to medical records for physicians and patients alike.


ITEA’s first Achievement Award "for outstanding contributions to the programme" went to the six-nation core team of the ITEA Technology Roadmap on Software-Intensive Systems. This landmark document, which is available on ITEA’s Web site1, is already influencing research and development programmes at the EU and national level, and is much in demand from all over the world.


Representatives of several European governments and the European Commission confirmed their support for ITEA, and revealed plans for further investments that would stimulate the development of software-intensive systems. Noting similarities with the transport infrastructures of the 19th and 20th centuries, ITEA’s chairman Paul Mehring stated that Europeans have a new common task: to ensure a strong economy in the 21st century by putting digital structures in place today. He concluded, "ITEA is the catalyst that is making it happen."


About ITEA

The mission of Information Technology for European Advancement (ITEA) is to promote the development of embedded and distributed software and related software engineering technologies. It is an industry-driven strategic research and development programme supported by national governments within the Eureka2 framework.


Established in mid-1999, ITEA has quickly become a significant force in Europe’s software landscape. With more than 5,000 developer-years already in the programme and another 10,000 anticipated over the next five years, ITEA will step up its role in coordinating European software development efforts. Europe’s leadership in embedded software and software-intensive systems is crucial to securing future competitiveness in a wide range of industries.


Founding companies include Alcatel, Barco, Bosch, Bull, DaimlerChrysler, Italtel, Nokia, Philips Electronics, Siemens, Thales, and Thomson multimedia. These firms are all leaders in their field (automotive, telecommunications and mobile communication, consumer electronics and information technology). ITEA works closely with partners from research institutes, universities and industry.



For more information, please contact:


Anne van der Linden
ITEA Office
Tel: +31 40 247 5590
Fax: +31 40 247 5595
Email: [email protected]


1. http://www.itea-office.org/documents/itea_roadmap_download.htm
2. EUREKA is a Europe-wide network for industrial R&D through which industry and research institutes from 31 European countries and the European Union develop and exploit the technologies crucial to global competitiveness and a better quality of life. See http://www.eureka.be