For the OpenWebSearch.eu project, the Open Search Foundation has joined forces with 13 other renowned European research centers to develop an open European infrastructure for web search. The project will be contributing to Europe’s digital sovereignty as well as promoting an open human-centered search engine market. The European Commission has now approved the project’s Horizon Europe funding of 8,5 million euros.
„Free, open and unbiased access to information – we have lost these core principles in web search and urgently need to restore them. This is why we will create an open European infrastructure for internet search, based on European values and jurisdiction.” says Michael Granitzer of University Passau and Open Search Foundation, project coordinator of OpenWebSearch.eu.
Over the next three years the researchers will develop the core of a European Open Web Index (OWI) as a basis for a new Internet Search in Europe. In addition, the project will set the foundation for an open and extensible European open Web Search and Analysis Infrastructure (OWSAI), based on Europe’s values, principles, legislation and standards.
“Open Web Search will give Europe a boost in innovation. Science, the European data economy and the economy as a whole will be able to use the open web index as an innovation platform and data source,” says Dr Stefan Voigt, board member of the Open Search Foundation and head of the OpenSearch@DLR project from DLR’s German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD). “This is particularly important for future AI innovations and for other European infrastructures such as the European Open Science Cloud or GAIA-X.”
The project has its origins in concerns over the imbalance of the search engine market. Despite being a backbone of our digital economy, web search is dominated and limited by a few gatekeepers like Google, Microsoft, Baidu or Yandex. Thus, information as public good, with free, unbiased and transparent access is not under public control anymore. This imbalance endangers democracy and limits the innovative potential of Europe’s research landscape and economy.
“Internet search concerns us all. It enriches our democracy, as long as its cornerstones – trust, diversity and transparency – are upheld. I am very happy that we as an NGO are helping in this project to bring these values back to web search,” says Christine Plote, board member of the Open Search Foundation and head of the osf’s ethics working group.
OpenWebSearch.EU’s strong multi-disciplinary consortium of 14 European partners is convinced that “the open web search infrastructure will not only contribute to Europe’s sovereignty for navigating and searching the web. It will benefit us all as citizens. Based on our own preferences, we will finally have a real choice again when choosing search engines.”
OpenWebSearch.EU is the first project the EU has funded to get tomorrow’s web search up and running. It will kick-off in September 2022. The 14 partner institutions will initially cooperate over a time-frame of three years. The project has received funding of 8,5 million euros from the European Union’s Horizon research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101070014.
About the project
The OpenWebSearch.EU project is funded with 8.5 million euros from the EU’s Horizon Europe research framework programme (No. 101070014). The 14 partners will initially work together for a period of three years.
List of project partners
1. University of Passau, Germany (uni-passau.de)
2. Leibniz Supercomputing Centre of Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany (lrz.de)
3. Stichting Radboud Universiteit, Netherlands (ru.nl)
4. Leipzig University, Germany (uni-leipzig.de)
5. Graz University of Technology, Austria (tugraz.at)
6. Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Germany (dlr.de)
7. VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, IT4Innovations, Czech Republic (www.vsb.cz)
8. European Organization for Nuclear Research – CERN, Switzerland (home.cern)
9. Open Search Foundation, Germany (opensearchfoundation.org)
10. A1 Slovenija, telekomunikacijske storitve, d. d., Slovenia (a1.si)
11. CSC-Tieteen Tietotekniikan Keskus Oy, Finland (csc.fi)
12. Stichting Nlnet, Netherlands (nlnet.nl)
13. Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany (uni-weimar.de)
14. SUMA-EV – Association for Free Access to Knowledge, Germany (suma-ev.de)
About Horizon Europe
Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. It aims to build a knowledge- and innovation-based society and a competitive economy while contributing to sustainable development. The programme contributes to the implementation of the European Commission’s guidelines.