PARIS – French President Jacques Chirac has announced a 2 billion-euro ($2.47 billion) investment in a broad-ranging industrial and technological development program whose projects will include digital-TV content delivery over mobile phones and a multimedia search engine to take on the ubiquitous Google.
“In a world of growing competition between companies, nations and continents, science and innovation are the keys to progress, growth and employment,” Chirac said today (April 25) in a speech before an audience that included French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and an assemblage of company leaders.
The French Agency for Industrial Innovation (AII), which was set up in August to oversee the program, met last week to finalize selection of the first six projects, in the fields of health care, energy, information and communication technologies, and nonpolluting and secure transport. “These programs focus on technological challenges that are essential to our future,” Chirac said, adding the hope that the initiative will reinforce “the excellence of our industry and services to create new, highly qualified jobs.”
The projects include the multimedia search engine Quaero, which means “I search for” in Latin. Aimed at developing multimedia search software for computers and mobile phones, Quaero is a joint project of Thomson, France Telecom and Exalead. Co-financed by Paris and Berlin, the project will receive 90 million euros ($111.3 million) from the AII.
The Homes project, meanwhile, aims to reduce energy consumption within buildings by 20 percent. AII will invest 39 million euros ($48 million) over a period of five years to fund the work, conducted by Schneider Electric in collaboration with EDF, Radiall, Somfi, STMicroelectronics, Philips, TAC and Wieland.
The third project, Mobile TV Without Limits (TVMSL), will pursue standards for delivering TV programming to mobile phones. Sagem Communications, Aliena Space, Philips and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) are collaborating on this 98 million-euro ($121.2 million) project. AII co-financing amounts to 38 million euros ($47 million).
The other projects are NeoVal, an advanced light metro train; Bio-Hub, which addresses the powering of refineries by agricultural products; and VHD, started by French automaker PSA-Peugeot Citroën to produce hybrid diesel-electric cars. The VHD project also involves French and German companies Valeo, Michelin, Saft, Bosh and Orsam.
The AII will examine 30 more projects by the end of the year.