Theseus Aid Gets EU Authorization

    July 19, 2007

The mythological Theseus was a Greek hero who became a king; he presumably became filthy rich, as well.  The modern Theseus – a German search engine project – has also gained quite a bit of money: the European Commission just authorized $165 million in aid.

“Initially, the German government would pay several ‘icebreaker’ companies – Siemens AG, SAP AG, Deutsche Thomson oHG and EMPOLIS GmbH, owned by Bertelsmann AG – to kick start research,” reports the Associated Press.  “Later, the German funding would be spread out to small and medium businesses for them to develop the earlier research.”

In the end, the Germans hope to offer unique semantic search abilities, but Theseus is not intended to compete with Google.  (A slight side note: if the name Quaero is familiar to you, know that Theseus won’t directly challenge it, either.)  As for the possibility that Theseus would give those “icebreaker” companies an unfair edge, Neelie Kroes, EU Competition Commissioner, had something to say.

“I am pleased that Germany intends to promote additional research and innovation for the next generation of the Internet and has taken care to do so in a way that will minimize any distortions of competition,” she told Bloomberg’s John Rega.

There’s been no word about when results are expected from Theseus, but the $165 million in funding is supposed to last through 2011.  We’ll have to see if, in that period, the German project can come up with better than following a thread out of a maze.