European Software researchers sound the alarm

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

Publication date: 10-01-2022

Software researchers from all over Europe are sounding the alarm: in order to maintain a strong international competitive position, more financial resources need to be committed to software research. Only then necessary innovations can be realised. To reinforce their call, a petition has been signed more than 800 times by top researchers, industry leaders, and software experts from all over Europe. The petition "Europe needs strong software research" has been presented to representatives from (European) politics, industry and Dutch research funding body NWO. 

Software, like oxygen, is an invisible but essential element for all life forms. It is a driving force of the world we live in. There is almost no aspect of society that is not facilitated by software. The majority of businesses are driven by software nowadays. This makes it all the more striking that investments in the field of software research in the Netherlands and Europe lag behind influential tech countries such as China and the USA.

Software researcher Tijs van der Storm (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, RuG) is contributing to the petition on behalf of VERSEN, the association for software engineering research in the Netherlands. Van der Storm: "Software drives progress in many areas of science, such as AI, data and engineering. It is the basis of our infrastructure and crucial systems such as energy, telecom, aviation and financial services. If Europe wants to keep up with the world in these areas, we need to invest in software research heavily soon."

The amount of software is enormous and growing exponentially. However, there is a striking contrast between the ubiquity of software in today’s society and the extraordinary difficulty of ensuring the reliability, security and sustainability of modern software systems. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovations in the field of software engineering. Fostering such requires fundamental software research, beyond specific application areas such as AI, IoT and Quantum Computing.

According to the researchers, Europe has the expertise to deliver such innovations. It is home to some of the most talented software researchers in universities, research institutes and R&D departments. However, the research community does not have the resources to initiate fundamental research and public-private partnerships between industry and knowledge institutions. Europe therefore runs the risk of becoming a second-hand user of innovations developed elsewhere (especially by big tech from the US and Asia.) This affects Europe's competitive position as software is the main differentiator and value-adding factor for products and services.

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