The Slovak Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (SRCIM) joined ERCIM in May 1998. It always takes time for a new partner to fully integrate into the co-operative work of the member institutes. The Familiarisation Day held during the recent ERCIM Board of Directors and ERCIM Executive Committee meetings in Bratislava will certainly help to speed up this process.
SRCIM aspires to both benefit from and contribute to the melting pot of information and experience embodied in ERCIM. Slovakia is amidst a difficult economical and social transformation. It will take a number of years before local industry becomes strong enough to look for challenges in the more distant future and to recognise the importance of research, development, and education. Some of the problems in the area of IT that Slovak society and industry are going to face in the future are in the meantime being recognised in many European countries and addressed by the ERCIM institutes. SRCIM intends to participate in looking for solutions to these problems and thus become ready to apply these solutions in the local context.
Historical circumstances inhibited advanced research in most applied areas of IT in Slovakia. Theoretical research, less dependent on hardware, managed to stay in touch with the current developments and the results achieved are recognised and appreciated by the international community. Strong theoretical research influenced the computer science education at leading universities. The educational paradigm 'through abstraction to flexibility', applied over many years, resulted in a strong base of IT professionals in Slovakia who are ready, many years after their graduation, to embrace the newest technologies and paradigms of software development. SRCIM member institutes are eager to find areas of common interest with other ERCIM member institutes. Their well-trained research and development teams are looking forward to contributing to and gaining experience from joint projects.
The challenges posed by our vision of the information society of the future transcend the borders and the solutions our community needs to find will require teams that transcend the borders too. It is vital that partners of varied expertise and societal background look for solutions that will indeed bring the benefits of IT to everyone. ERCIM has a large enough geographical coverage of Europe to find such partners and to form such teams. The member institutes of SRCIM have many years of experience in co-operation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe and are ready to share this experience.
The broad base of R&D, the geographical spread, and the multicultural outlook give ERCIM the potential of being one of the few organisations that can identify key issues and influence the strategy of European IT R&D. SRCIM welcomes the chance and the challenge to take part in this process. SRCIM is a junior partner in ERCIM, both in its size and in the duration of its membership. Having as members the key R&D institutions in IT in Slovakia and representing a base of well trained and flexible researchers, SRCIM has the ambition to contribute to finding solutions to the IT challenges on the ERCIM agenda.