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Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 07:43:04 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Brian Randell <Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk>
Date: April 26, 2006 5:23:37 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride

Dave:

From today's (UK) Guardian - for IP idf you wish.

cheers

Brian

===

http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1761440,00.html


 Chirac unveils his grand plan to restore French pride

· President hopes to secure legacy with rival to Google
· Six major projects to get £1.4bn state funding

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Wednesday April 26, 2006
The Guardian

The French president, Jacques Chirac, yesterday unveiled what he hopes will be his great legacy to France's struggle against the global dominance of the US: a series of technological projects including a European search engine to rival Google.

Mr Chirac, who walked out of an EU summit last month when a fellow Frenchman committed the grave offence of speaking English, styles himself as the defender of France in the globalised world.

After the biggest street protests in decades forced him to stage a U-turn on employment reform last month, Mr Chirac is keener than ever to be remembered for doing something positive for French pride. Yesterday, he announced that he would provide ¤2bn (£1.4bn) in funding for a series of innovative grands projets, including a Franco-German search engine to compete with Google and Yahoo!.

Named Quaero - Latin for "I search" - the search engine aims to be the first to efficiently sort through audio, images and video. It would search the growing array of podcasts and videoclips on the web and deliver the information to computers and mobile phones. Quaero has been a pet project of Mr Chirac's for some time. In his new year speech at the Elysée Palace, he spoke of the need to "take up the global challenge posed by Google and Yahoo!".

But his plan is not without its sceptics. The French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné has mocked the project's funding as paltry in comparison with Microsoft or Google. Mike Lynch, chief executive of Autonomy, a Cambridge-based search software firm, wrote to the Financial Times calling the plan "a blatant case of misguided and unnecessary nationalism" and warning that by the time Quaero is developed the market will have moved on.

The project was one of six unveiled yesterday by Mr Chirac. A plan for delivering high-quality television to mobile phones, a project for refineries to turn cereals into chemicals, a new light train system, and diesel and electric cars are to be part-funded by the Agency for Industrial Innovation, set up by Mr Chirac. German companies and scientists will work with French industry on the projects.

Mr Chirac said he wanted to raise the global profile of French industry and avoid a future in which France was known only as a "museum country". "These big programmes will focus us on technological challenges that are essential for our future," he said in a speech. He added that China spent five times more on research than France and that only one French company appeared in a recent list of the top 30 companies that invest in research.

France has a history of investing public money into big technological projects. Some, such as Airbus and TGV, have proved a success. Others have been a flop. The Minitel information system depended on the distribution of free terminals. It was never successful outside France and was superseded by the internet.

It is not the first time Mr Chirac has sought to establish France as a competitor in the digital information age. After the election in 2002, he promised to challenge CNN and the BBC with a 24-hour news station, a "CNN à la française", which would counter the Anglo- Saxon world view and spread French values. The station, CII, with some ¤70m a year in public funding, is due to be launched in December.

Big ideas

Quaero
A Franco-German project to create a search engine. Its budget will be ¤450m (£310m) over five years, including ¤90m in subsidies

BioHub
A ¤98m investment in a "bio-refinery" that can use starch to create plastics and food additives

NeoVal
The successor to Val, the automatic metro. It will use an energy- storage technology allowing the train to recharge itself at every station

Unlimited Mobile TV
Satellite and mobile phone technology to allow TV viewing from a mobile phone

Home
A Schneider Electric initiative for extremely energy-efficient buildings. Sensors in walls will regulate heat, light and ventilation

Hybrid diesel vehicle
Cars powered by diesel and electricity


--
School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU, UK
EMAIL = Brian.Randell () ncl ac uk   PHONE = +44 191 222 7923
FAX = +44 191 222 8232  URL = http://www.cs.ncl.ac.uk/~brian.randell/


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