EU to invest in open source

€660,000 has been earmarked by the EU to promote open source research and collaboration across the globe

The European Union is putting €660,000 (£454,000) towards research into open source software and standards across the world.

The newly approved funding is for the two-year FLOSSWorld project (FLOSS stands for Free/Libre/Open Source Software). It is Europe's first initiative to support international research and policy development on this topic. 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 (MERIT), told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com: "What is unusual is that the EU doesn't usually fund international projects."

The €660,000 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 organisations 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 co-ordinated 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."