Global collaboration on open source software received a boost with funding approved for a follow-up Sixth Framework Programme project, called FLOSSWorld. The aim of the worldwide project is to extend the reach of this powerful open source technology beyond Europe's borders to the rest of the world.
The EU-backed project FLOSSWorld is keen to strengthen Europe's leadership in international research into what has become known as Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) and open standards. To do this, it has set its sights on finding ways to put research and policy to work on improving international co-operation in this area by building a global constituency of policy-makers and researchers.
|You can't get much more open than this…but the EU-backed FLOSSWorld project wants to extend the reach of open source software.|
Work carried on FLOSS in previous EU-supported projects (IST projects in Fifth Framework Programme, FP5) has succeeded in developing the concept in Europe, but more now needs to be done to deliver it further afield, especially for use in developing countries, where the cost of software can be onerous.
FLOSSWorld will use the EU funding to promote global open source software collaboration. The project involves 17 partners in 12 countries around the world, who will share the €660 000 grant from the EU's FP6. Focusing on FLOSS communities in Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, India, Malaysia and South Africa, the project will enable research and policy development at a global level for the first time, and facilitate further collaboration between the EU and developing countries in this area, the partners say in a statement.
Led by the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in the Netherlands, and involving researchers from MERIT and the United Nation University Institute for New Technologies (UNU-INTECH), the project brings together major European research institutes and leading public research institutes in the target countries.
The project will build upon the past research of the EU partners – MERIT, the Oxford Internet Institute, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and FUNDECYT, the Government of Extremadura (ES) – to build a truly global consortium. New partners include USUARIA, an Argentine ICT business user organisation, the National Information Technology Institute of the Office of the President of Brazil, and the Internet Society Bulgaria, to name just a few.
The FP5 FLOSS project has certainly left its mark. Over 300 000 copies of its project report have been downloaded from the internet since it was published in 2003, and ‘FLOSS', an acronym created for the project, is now a widely used term for the entire free software/open source phenomenon in many parts of the world.
The two-year FLOSSWorld project, which kicked off in May, is expected to have a similarly high worldwide impact, since the substantial issues addressed – skills development and e-government activities – have not been examined before at the international level. FLOSS drew considerable global interest, including follow-on studies (FLOSS-US, FLOSS-Japan) by Stanford University and Mitsubishi Research respectively, both are now external supporters of the FLOSSWorld project. Indeed, FLOSSWorld aims to broaden the scope of this trans-world collaboration well beyond the current consortium partners.
United Nations University, Institute for New Technologies