Germany to fund rival to Google search engine

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Germany got the go-ahead from the European Union on Thursday to spend €120 million ($167 million) on research into Theseus, an Internet search engine designed to compete against US-based Google.

The EU approved a subsidy from Germany's ministry of economics and technology to develop the Theseus research project, which will develop and test new search technologies for the Internet. The project, which lists 22 partner organizations, companies and universities on its Web site, aims to create a multimedia search engine, a set of tools for translating text and identifying and indexing images, sound and text. “Theseus will make it possible for all Internet users to have easy access to global knowledge,” Siemens' Vice President of Corporate Technology Hartmut Raffler said in a statement. “The technology Theseus will develop will generate new knowledge from knowledge.”

The companies and institutes involved in the research will also provide an additional €90 million. The government aid will be initially paid to large companies, including SAP, Siemens and Deutsche Thompson, as “icebreakers” to later allow smaller businesses to expand on early ideas. “New forms of acquiring, searching for and evaluating Internet-based information have are of strategic importance for the German government,” Economics Minister Michael Glos said in a statement. “With Theseus we want to improve Germany and Europe's ability to compete and reach a top position in IT and communications technology.”

Named after a character in Greek mythology who uses thread to navigate King Minos' maze, the Theseus project was born out of Quaero, a joint French-German Internet search initiative that then French President Jacques Chirac once called “the answer to the global competitors of Google and Yahoo.” But after seeing that Quaero's German and French researchers were working in different directions, the project split in December 2006, with the French continuing to work on Quaero and the Germans focused on Theseus. Managers from both projects have, however, said they will meet regularly to form synergies when possible. (dw-world.de)

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