LT Business Aspects

Current situation in 2006

There are quite a number of small (and medium-sized) commercial enterprises in the Nordic and the Baltic area. Many of them have an academic or research origin. Few of them are capable of major investments in LT tools or resources.

The roles of the public and the commercial sectors need clarification and their cooperation and interplay should be strengthened. The public sector needs to know its responsibility and provide adequate funding and continuity. The commercial sector is essentially needed for creating some of the products and applications. The commercial entrepreneurs use the infrastructure for building products. The infrastructure and the applications and services must meet each other in a well understood way and there must not be significant gaps between the two. The following might be a guideline for this partition:

  • Long and medium term research of LT is and will be funded by various public sources and part of it will contribute to the building of the infrastructure. The research feeds the industry with new methods and ideas for new applications.
  • Short term applied research and product development is funded by the commercial side with possible partial support from the public industrial funding agencies.
  • The development of the LT infrastructure ought to be coordinated and mostly funded by the public sector on open source principles with shared efforts from the commercial side. Collecting corpora for languages with so few speakers as the Nordic languages have is clearly a public matter for the local governments and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The initial investments in open source software tools of the infrastructure are a matter of public funding, but the later investments will be shared with the commercial players.
  • Publicly funded resources are freely available on equal terms for everybody.
  • The opportunity to be able to make money on LT IPRs must be protected to attract people and money to this field.

Comments:

  • It is also important to increase cooperation between universities and research institutes on the one hand and private companies on the other.
  • Few LT endeavors and LT entrepreneurial businesses have found the means to grow and prosper.
  • Currently the market for LT is small. We need to develop viable business models.
  • If LT is to be a viable option for attracting talent and funds, the business potential will need to be developed and represent an interesting enough prospect.

Vision for 2016

In 2016, the availability of compatible LT modules and interfaces give the software industry and the service providers in the Nordic/Baltic region a competitive edge in the global market place, by facilitating the process of tailoring products and services to language-specific requirements in new international markets. The Nordic language councils continue their long and successful cooperation and have extended this to cooperation with LT companies. Applications develop freely in a business-friendly environment, but applications to the benefit of people with special needs, e.g. the elderly and impaired may develop in a non-competitive environment with public support.

The principles of open source are widely understood and various parties are aware of the practices. Commercial enterprises have adopted viable business strategies for living side by side with and benefiting from the open source efforts, which are seen as an important part of the third sector in the language communities of the Nordic/Baltic region. We have viable business models for sustaining the LT business despite small market sizes and the limited availability of common resources. The joint efforts in the Nordic countries have resulted in healthy industries that can support applications in all Nordic languages with a command of spontaneous spoken interaction.

Recommendations

The licensing conditions of LT resources must allow and encourage both their commercial and academic use. Medium term applied research projects together with industrial partners should continue. Funding should be provided for creating and purchasing LT applications and services for the public sector. This funding is intended to stimulate the LT service and application market by allowing for competition (and possible cooperation) among commercial players while aiming for real and useful public service. Such services could include more ambitious goals using LT-enhanced applications.

  • Web services: tool sharing, hosted products
  • LT module distribution

Key Area Magnitude of funding needed Parties involved Mode of cooperation
LT module uptake 5 MEUR industry, universities and language councils Action plan managed at Nordic level
Web services 5 MEUR industry and universities Academia/industry collaboration

-- KristerLinden - 12 Jun 2006

Topic revision: r9 - 2006-06-20 - KristerLinden
 
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