Battle for the Future of the Net

The Semantic Web connects information in novel ways. Will EU tech companies drop the ball on another breakthrough?

Europe's technology landscape is littered with stories about what might have been. Take the case of Finnish engineer Olli Martikainen who started developing a router—network hardware that directs streams of data from one computer to another—back in 1982 at VTT, a research institute in Espoo, Finland. The Finnish companies financing the project, including Nokia (NOK), didn't see the potential, so the project was dropped in 1986, shortly before a U.S. startup called Cisco Systems (CSCO) went on to staggering success commercializing similar technology. Martikainen's prototype now gathers dust in a university display.

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