12 Mar 08David Satterthwaite
Twenty-three European private firms led by Thomson will receive EUR99m (USD152m) from the French government to develop the next European rival to Google. The European Commission approved the funding after finding that the research and cultural benefits of the project - called Quaero - will offset any market dominance gained by Thomson. The investment, however, only covers half of the estimated costs of Quaero - the project is estimated to cost EUR199m (USD306m) over the five first years.
Quaero aims to be a multimedia search engine that will work across all online digital media platforms including PCs, mobile phones, set-top-boxes and handheld devices. The engine will index content in several languages and will provide content management tools for media producers to promote their material.
Last Jul, the EC cleared a decision by the German government to give EUR120m (USD165m) to the German segment of the Quaero project, named Theseus. Like Quaero, Theseus was conceived in 2005 and is led by firms including Siemens and Deutsche Thomson.
The EC says the project's success will be crucial in allowing EU technology companies to compete with the dominance of the US in the digital media sector.
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