Founded in 1550 by Gustavus I of Sweden, Helsinki is today the capital of Finland with a population of roughly 570 000 (2006) spread out over an area of 186 square kilometres. The national stereotype is someone who can sit idle in a sauna (at about 80 degrees) for several hours without uttering a word. Upon completion of a steam bath the avreage Finn is prone to venture out into the seemingly perennial winter, roll around in the snow, take a quick dip in the sea (at about 4 degrees) and then commit entirely to the delights of Vodka.
Travelling with no less than eight colleagues from the region of Sogn og Fjordane in Western Norway, my purpose of being in Helsinki was attending the IST 2006 conference. The core topic of the conference was preparing for the launch of a new European research period throuh the 7th framework programme for reserach and development. This was also reflected in the selection of key note speakers which in sum covered all the aspects of FP7 projects: the technicalities of writing a proposal; how to establish and set up a consortium; how to run a project and finally, which thematical priorities are put forward for the new programming period and its various calls for proposals.
- The new programme is to focus on enabling European industry to take global leadership within ICT and increase the ability to compete with emerging economies in Asia and India in addition to challenging the position of USA.
- Focus is on technologies to form the basis for new economies rather than simply improving current processes and implementing regional political strategies.
- The commission seems to be targeting the fulfilment of overall European objectives such as the European Digital Library within the cultural heritage sector.