ERCIM News No.34 - July 1998

This August I am stepping down as ERCIM President after two terms. ERCIM has enlarged with more members. The relationships between the Institutions are deeper and we see many new projects. We avoided creating a heavy central administration, our office in Paris is lean and effective. Finally, the membership fees have dropped twice and we are running a surplus. In short, we have achieved a European dream.

We live, however, in interesting times. We have achieved much but there are new challenges facing all of us.

The integration challenge: Basic and Applied Research cannot run separately in our area. Every idea should have a chance to be relevant and the applications push our concepts to the limit. Interleaving structurally and dynamically Basic and Applied Research is a challenge.

The impact challenge: Our area is booming. There is so much activity and so many diverse interests, that it is difficult to make our mark. We represent a very small portion of total R&D most of which runs in the private sector. We need a great effort to be visible and credible.

The innovation challenge: There is a demand pull from the marketplace for technological innovation. We need to position ourselves in the innovation chain which provides at the end companies, jobs and wealth for our society.

The qualification challenge: Our area expands so fast that it is lacking qualified people. We need to provide solutions of lifelong learning both for people being pulled from other areas and our own people needing constant retooling.

The acceleration challenge: Everything regarding our area is moving extremely fast. All our processes from starting projects, repositioning, technology transfer to phasing out activities need to be constantly accelerated.

The versatility challenge: Our area is becoming a key component in many new activities combining disciplines, eg Bioinformatics, Bioinformation, etc. We need to be versatile to work together with other disciplines and to defend our share in the new developments.

All these new challenges should not derail us from our core business which is to provide quality Research in Information Technology. If you think that all this is hardly possible, then think of what was achieved in the last thirty years. At the time not only it was considered impossible, but not anybody could even dream of it.

Dennis Tsichritzis

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