Dennis Tsichritzis, President of ERCIM: "To agree on a strategy which will benefit and satisfy all ERCIM members is one of the most important tasks of the presidency which I took over this year"
ERCIM has been in existence for more than 5 years. Reason enough to reflect now on its intentions upon creation and its development since then.
ERCIM was founded on April 13, 1989, by CWI, GMD and INRIA. There had been good working relations between the three institutes for quite some time before they decided to enter into a new kind of scientific cooperation. At that time they also saw the urgent need for cooperation in view of a forthcoming European market (`Europe 1993'). They anticipated that it would require the combined efforts of all three organizations in order to be able to meet the opportunities and challenges of such a new dynamic environment.
ERCIM's initial declaration that it was open for similar research centres in other European countries to join in and support its effort was very successful and saw a steady growth in members: in 1990 RAL joined, in 1991 INESC and CNR followed, in 1992 SINTEF, FORTH and SICS became partners, in 1993 AEDIMA and VTT, and this year November SZTAKI and SGFI will officially sign the ERCIM agreement. To sum it up: in just 5 years ERCIM has grown from three to thirteen members and is no longer comparable with the original organization.
With 13 partners, and perhaps soon 14 or 15, it will be necessary to discuss and agree on the strategy for the future. ERCIM's most pressing aim on its foundation was to become a partner of the European Union in the field of information technology. In spite of its size ERCIM has not yet achieved this goal. Therefore it is now necessary to initiate a discussion which should lead to decisions on how the aims of ERCIM could be reinforced or amended.
We also have to take into account that the 13 ERCIM partners have quite different views, organisations and individual goals. Originally, the partners each agreed on a procedure to put some money into ERCIM so that later on this investment would become profitable. However, some partners have to rely heavily on project funding, which makes it difficult for them to find funds for ERCIM. We should look at the possibilities that the investment in ERCIM may eventually pay off.
It is thus very important to have a general exchange of ideas among all partners so that we can agree on a programme for the future which will benefit and satisfy all ERCIM members. The tackling of these issues is in my opinion the most important task of the presidency which I took over this year.