ERCIM Executive Committee 1995 to 1998
by Christos Nikolaou and Constantine Stephanidis
From September 1995 to August 1998, Christos Nikolaou chaired the ERCIM Executive Committee, succeeding Bob Hopgood, the first chairman of the committee. During this period, Constantine Stephanidis served as the ERCIM Executive Committee Secretary.
ERCIM is now a well-known actor in the European and international Information Technology scene. In the past three years, five new European institutes have joined ERCIM, expanding its geographical coverage and its scientific scope. But there was also the withdrawal of AEDIMA, the Spanish consortium in ERCIM. It is very much hoped and widely expected that a Spanish representation will soon re-join ERCIM.
ERCIM has established co-operation activities at an international level, has acted as a consultant to the European Commission, to international organisations and national/local governments, and has contributed to the strengthening of the European R&D in the Information Technology field. This role should be maintained and encouraged.
The ERCIM Executive Committee has initiated a number of actions to improve the organisational structure and strengthen the co-operation between the member institutes. Along this line, specific responsibilities have been assigned to members of the Executive Committee, resulting in a more co-ordinated and team-oriented operation.
The ERCIM Working Groups and the ERCIM Office have emerged as engines of ERCIM growth through competitive bidding and successful funding of ERCIM proposals. There are now fourteen working groups (versus six in 1995) that cover a wide scientific area, organising conferences and workshops, establishing standard co-operation procedures and dissemination activities, and giving birth to collaborative projects between the participating institutes. Both ERCIM Office and Working Groups should maintain and strengthen their momentum. In particular, the ERCIM Working Groups should be strongly encouraged to seek ERCIM co-ordinated projects more aggressively.
The figures of the ERCIM overall budget have increased, rising from 1,5 MECU in 1995 to 3,3 MECU in 1998. The projection for this calendar year is that ERCIM will attract over 2 MECU funding from the European Commission, versus 600 KECU in 1995, and show a carry forward of 750 KECU in 1998.
ERCIM's visibility has grown significantly through the exploitation of the Web, the improvement of ERCIM publications, and the involvement of ERCIM in international bodies (such as W3C and VRML Consortia) and as consultant in EC sponsored or co-ordinated technical and policy committees and working groups.
An ERCIM Internet domain has been set up (ercim.org), providing the electronic door to the activities and operation of ERCIM, while restricted web sites have been established to support the internal activities and co-operation between the ERCIM members. The ERCIM Web server has been re-structured, and now offers a wide range of information, concerning working groups, the digital library initiative, workshop sponsorship, fellowship programme, the Cor-Baayen award, ERCIM co-ordinated projects, ERCIM events, and ERCIM publications (ERCIM News, technical reports, workshop proceedings, strategic reports, ERCIM members' libraries). The ERCIM News (both in paper and electronic form) proved to be a very successful tool for the dissemination of information about ERCIM research activities, views and policies.
The commitment to the provision of an ERCIM Virtual Laboratory was followed, but not fulfilled. Lack of funding and inadequate European research networking infrastructure have frustrated ERCIM efforts to become a Pan-European Virtual Laboratory, where new technologies, such as the electronic marketplace, digital libraries, distant learning, 'collaboratories', and virtual working spaces can be tested, piloted and seeded. In the next three-year period, ERCIM should become a more vocal and ardent advocate of the need for a decisive upgrade of the European networking infrastructure.
The significant progress made during the last three years was only possible because of the team spirit that prevailed in the Executive Committee and the constant encouragement and support given to us by the ERCIM Board of Directors and especially by ERCIM's President, Dennis Tsichritzis. We would like to acknowledge the active support of the Editorial Board through the ERCIM News, and the ERCIM European Liaison Officers Group for being a vital link of ERCIM to Brussels. We would also like to thank the ERCIM Office for the continuous efforts and commitment against growing overload. Finally, we wish our two colleagues, Eckart Bierduempel and Gilbert Kalb, who take over the chairmanship and secretariat of the Executive Committee respectively, every success in their new role and exciting mission.