PARIS In the hope of stimulating local technological, industrial and economic development, President Jacques Chirac of France announced Tuesday (April 25) a 2 billion euro (about $2.5 billion) plan to back a series of projects including one on a Franco-German search engine intended to rival Google.
The French Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII), which was set up in August 2005 to oversee the implementation of the program, met last week to select the first sixth projects within the fields of healthcare, energy, information and communication technologies as well as non-polluting and secure transports.
“In a world of growing competition between companies, nations, and continents, sciences and innovation are the keys to progress, growth, and employment”, asserted Jacques Chirac in a speech today at the presidential Elysee Palace in the presence of Dominique de Villepin, France’s prime minister, and an audience of company leaders. “These major programs focus on technological challenges that are essential to our future”, added Chirac, saying he hoped they would reinforce “the excellence of our industry and services to create new highly qualified jobs.”
The six projects include the multimedia search engine “Quaero”, which means “I search for” in Latin, which is intended to compete with the ubiquitous Google. The “Quaero” project aims at developing multimedia search software for the general public that would be used on both computers and mobile phones.
“Quaero, defined as a digital information process and an easy access to multimedia content, is a major Franco-German project built with Thomson, France Telecom, and Exalead. Faced with the exponential growth of search engines, France, with its German partners and tomorrow, I hope, its European partners, had to draw level with this key challenge”, commented Jacques Chirac in his speech.
Co-financed by Paris and Berlin, this project will benefit from a 90 million-euro (about $110 million) financial support from the AII.