Cover ERCIM News 56

This issue in pdf
(64 pages; 8,7 Mb)

Cover ERCIM News 55
previous issue
Number 55
October 2003:
Special theme:
Machine Perception

all previous issues

Next issue:
April 2004

Next Special theme:
Games Techlology

About ERCIM News

Valid HTML 4.01!

< Contents ERCIM News No. 56, January 2004
  In 2004, ERCIM will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, and it is a time in which to take pride in the ERCIM community’s many achievements. ERCIM brings together research institutions from eighteen different countries in Europe, and encompasses more than 12 000 researchers. ERCIM is a de facto premier Network of Excellence in the emerging European Research Area, and a distributed think tank in both information and communications technologies (ICT) and applied mathematics (AM). ERCIM Working Groups are currently active in many significant areas of research within ICT and AM. ERCIM is well positioned to benefit Europe through strategic cooperation with the European Commission, the European Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation in the US, and other international organisations. ERCIM News is an important publication with a wide distribution in both paper and electronic form. ERCIM’s high-profile fellowship programme provides young researchers around the world with the opportunity to undertake cutting-edge research at ERCIM member institutions and to become familiar with the diversity of European cultures. Furthermore, the hosting of W3C in Europe is an important activity not only for ERCIM, but also for European industry and the European research community at large. ERCIM is developing quickly, and as it matures, it has the potential to become much more than the sum of its parts. However, ERCIM is currently at a crossroads, and many challenges and opportunities lie ahead. We must meet these challenges and exploit every opportunity in order to enhance Europe’s innovation capacity and competitiveness in the global research arena.

Stelios Orphanoudakis, Director of the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), and President of ERCIM.
Stelios Orphanoudakis, Director of the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH), and President of ERCIM.

ERCIM is currently an organisation of rather loosely coupled members. This coupling is primarily achieved through interactions at Working Group level, joint participation in EU projects and Networks of Excellence, and the dissemination through ERCIM News of R&D results and other developments from member institutions. Nevertheless, cohesion at the overall ERCIM level could be further strengthened. ERCIM must better define its own identity and deliver a clear message to its members, to the broader European research community and to European industry on what may be expected as ‘ERCIM added value’. While ERCIM has this issue under constant consideration, it is under some pressure and perhaps feels the need to expand with more members and associate members. However, unless ERCIM first acquires a clearer identity and formulates a strategic plan for growth, innovation and competitiveness, premature and rapid expansion may simply dilute its efforts and make the issue of ‘ERCIM added value’ more difficult to resolve. In the meantime, ERCIM member institutions ought to be strongly encouraged to promote ERCIM links within the research community of the country they represent.

Additionally, ERCIM should further develop its own research strategy and act as a catalyst for enhancing the research efforts of its members, while striving to improve and sustain its human resource potential and research infrastructure. ERCIM can become an incubator for the creation and validation of new research ideas in Europe, particularly in interdisciplinary areas where complementarity of skills and ideas is essential. Teams of excellence in selected thematic areas already exist within ERCIM and could be opened to researchers in other academic and research institutions, thus contributing to the creation of long-lasting relationships in European and global research. Given adequate financial support, ERCIM has the potential to play a significant part in a research infrastructure, which is greatly needed if the European Research Area is to become a reality.

This is a difficult period for fundamental research worldwide, and in Europe in particular. We need to ensure that in Europe, with its long-standing tradition in innovative research, fundamental research will remain alive and will be sustained. ERCIM is in a position to play a significant role in this, as it can provide the necessary critical mass and generate much-needed momentum. Fundamental research supports the R&D effort that is needed to sustain the competitiveness of European industry in the long term, and it cannot be allowed to lag behind. ERCIM can serve as an example for cooperation between research institutions and industry in Europe, and in addition should continue to work towards convincing industry, which is also going through a difficult period, that there are benefits in such a long-term cooperation.

ERCIM can refine its strategy for cooperation with the European Commission, the European Science Foundation, the National Science Foundation and other international organisations. In order for such partnerships to be mutually beneficial, it is necessary to define in more detail what ERCIM has to offer, as well as what it can expect. Finally, ERCIM is uniquely positioned to play an important role in technology and research-based education and training, thus contributing to the employability of Europe’s workforce in the emerging Information Society. A strategy and a timetable are required here as well, if ERCIM is to take advantage of this opportunity to establish the ERCIM label in the education and training arena at European level.

ERCIM is ready to meet the scientific, organisational, and financial challenges lying ahead and to act as a catalyst for strengthening European excellence in current and emerging research areas.


Stelios Orphanoudakis