Now, Europe Can Profit From Its Software Discoveries

Some of Europe's best-kept secrets include methods and tools for engineering, automating, and testing computer software--many of them developed through taxpayer-funded research and development programs. Problem is, once those projects disband, the results rarely see the light of day outside of the participating companies. Finally, European industry is uniting to get the word out.

The new, nonprofit European Software Institute (ESI), based in Bilbao, Spain, plans to assess software-development techniques and tools, endorse the best ones, and train European companies to use them. Similar to Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute, its goal is to make European industry generally more competitive by adopting more efficient programming methods. One big plus: In addition to hardware and software makers such as Groupe Bull, Siemens Nixdorf, and Cap Gemini Sogeti, the institute's 15 founding sponsors include customers such as British Aerospace and Lloyds Register, which can help keep the institute focused on industrial needs. Although ESI consists mainly of Western European countries, future plans call for the inclusion of Eastern European ones as well.