"By employing data acquisition, classification and knowledge extraction techniques developed in past European initiatives, the IST World portal currently offers a range of innovative functionalities to find partners and projects, and identify core competencies in different areas of research," says Professor Hans Uszkoreit, scientific director at DFKI and coordinator of the IST World project that is developing the portal.
The latest version of the portal, launched in March, already includes several key features such as a partner-finding tool, collaboration graphs to show former and current partnerships, and 2D competency diagrams to clearly display the research specialisations and expertise of different organisations in different countries.
"This is a work in progress and more features, and information will be added over the coming months," explains project manager Brigitte JÃ¶rg. "We aim to be the best tool for partnership building in the European research community" by the time the project ends in September 2007, she adds.
Partners from 15 European countries are feeding data into the system from their own repositories and providing national contacts. In addition, IST World employs Web crawling to update the database, and researchers and organisations will soon be able to include their profile through online forms. IST World also seeks to collaborate with existing community information services.
Among other future enhancements, the partners are planning to convert the competency diagram into a 3D visualisation of the European research landscape, and integrate tools for detecting and forecasting research trends that will benefit policymakers and sector analysts as well as researchers themselves.
According to JÃ¶rg, the portal will be particularly beneficial to research organisations and start-ups that are new to cross-organisational and cross-border collaboration, and which therefore may be missing out on partnering opportunities at present. "Start-ups and new researchers can find it hard to become visible and find partners. IST World will help them break into the scene and achieve visibility," she explains. "This is particularly important for organisations in the new Member States and accession countries where data on research is often fragmented and not readily accessible."
The consortium anticipates IST World being used extensively by the European research community over the coming years. The project partners are currently drawing up a business plan to ensure the sustainability of the portal long after 2007.
Hans Uszkoreit / Brigitte JÃ¶rg
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (DFKI)
Language Technology Lab
Stuhlsatzenhausweg 3 - Building 43.1
Source: IST Results