EU OKs German online search-engine grant

The European Union authorized Germany to give $165 million for research on Internet search-engine technologies that could someday challenge US search giant Google, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Theseus research project, the German arm of what the French call Quaero, is aiming to develop the world's most advanced multimedia search engine for the next-generation Internet. It would translate, identify and index images, audio and text.

Initially, the German government would pay several 'icebreaker' companies -- Siemens, SAP, Deutsche Thomson and EMPOLIS -- to kick start research, the report said.

Later, the German funding would be spread out to small and medium businesses for them to build on the earlier research, it added.

The Associated Press report said France is still discussing a similar subsidy plan with the European Commission, aiming to give $112 million to research led by French video-technology company Thomson.

EU regulators said it could allow Germany to subsidize the Theseus project until 2011 because the government grants were made in a way that would prevent giving any one company an unfair advantage over others, the report added.

The grants also are expected to help industry work more closely with scientists, making the research more efficient, the report further said.