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The European Commission has pledged €78m to fund research projects into tailoring computer grid technologies and services to meet the needs of European businesses.

Grid technologies involve linking thousands of computers and devices dynamically, to provide computing power on demand more flexibly and cheaply.

EU-funded research in this area has already been applied in automotive, aeronautics, financial, pharmaceutical, and media industry segments. For example, Audi is using grid prototypes for computer-aided design, engineering and testing, as part of the EU-funded SIMDAT project launched in 2004. The commission hopes the launch of 23 new projects will result in wider scale deployment of the technology.

"Grid and service-oriented architectures are crucial enabling technologies for economy-wide productivity and growth", said information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding. "Grid technologies, for example, enable competing manufacturers with common suppliers to develop fully integrated engineering environments that protect the commercial interests of all parties and boost their collective competitiveness. This is why I intend to earmark substantial EU funding for research in this field also in the future."

The EU is funding three main projects (listed below) and 20 smaller projects that will together involve around 300 participants from academia and industry.

  • BEinGRID (EU contribution: €15.7m), experiments to test and accelerate the take-up of grids in a range of various European business sectors (entertainment, financial, industrial, chemistry, retail, textiles, etc). The trial seeks to establish best practices and components to assist firms in getting the maximum benefit from the deployment of grid technologies.
  • XtreemOS (EU contribution: €14.2m), aims to extend the open source operating system Linux with grid services and support for virtual organisations.
  • BREIN (EU contribution: €6.6m), adapting grid technologies from academic environments to support critical applications for logistics management at airports.

Between 2002 and 2006, the commission has invested about €130m in grid research and €250m in grid deployment, including an upgrade of GÉANT, Europe's high-speed electronic research network.

Because of its importance in making European business more competitive, research into grids will continue to receive substantial funding, the commission said. ®

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