EU to fund global research on open source

"FLOSSWorld" project to look at potential impacts of open source on African, Asian, South American and other countries.

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The European Union is putting money toward research into open-source software and standards across the world.

The newly approved funding--660,00 euros, or $825,594--is for the two-year FLOSSWorld project, Europe's first initiative to support international research and policy development on "free/libre/open source software." Previous FLOSS projects, starting as early as 2001, have concentrated on the use of open source in Europe alone.

Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, FLOSSWorld coordinator at the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, told Silicon.com that the EU doesn't usually fund international projects.

The grant will be shared by countries including Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, India, Malaysia and South Africa.

The research will focus on three areas: the impact of free and open-source software on skills development and its ability to affect economics and generate employment; regional differences in software development; and attitudes of governments and public sector organizations to using open source.

Ghosh explained the goals of FLOSSWorld: "Our main goal is to increase collaboration at an international level. (The project) should lead to more collaboration between the EU and these countries.

"It should also provide a better understanding of the use of open source and the impact of open source in these countries and on the international level. No one really knows this now."

There's also the idea that FLOSSWorld should lead to coordinated policies based on the research findings for the countries involved, Ghosh explained, though he admitted: "We don't know what those policies will be yet."

Sylvia Carr of Silicon.com reported from London.