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The Dutch lead a charge to petition European and national funding agencies to finance more software research.

Software researchers from all over Europe are sounding the alarm: in order to maintain a strong international competitive position, Europeans need to commit more financial resources to software research.

To reinforce their call, more than 800 top researchers, industry leaders, and software experts from all over Europe have signed a petition. They have presented the document, titled “Europe needs strong software research“, to European political representatives, industry players, and the Dutch research funding body NWO. 

The petition notes that Europe is home to the expertise that can lead and drive innovation in software. It hosts some of the most talented software researchers at universities, research institutes, and R&D departments in industry.

However, the software research community lacks the resources to facilitate basic research, the petitioners claim. They also say funds are lacking to bootstrap public-private collaborations between industry and knowledge institutions. All this stifles innovation, they say.

Staying “ahead of the curve”

“Europe risks becoming a second-hand user of innovations invented elsewhere,” they warn. And by “elsewhere” they mean specifically big tech from America and Asia. European industry is gradually becoming less competitive as software is the key differentiating and value-adding factor in products and services, they state. This is not only detrimental to Europe’s economy, but also affects Europe’s autonomy and sovereignty at the strategic level.

Since software reflects and shapes society, they say, core European values are increasingly under threat. These values include privacy, safety, fairness, sustainability and inclusion.

“We therefore urgently request that European and national funding agencies acknowledge the importance of software for society and the need for software research,” they write.

“Now is the time for generous funding instruments for software research, and leveraging the expertise that Europe has to offer, to remain autonomous and stay ahead of the curve.”