Europe Awards EUR 5.8m to Tackle Digital Market’s Language Problem

Back in April, Slator covered the EUR 5.8m CEF Automated Translation call for tender that had just been published by the European Commission. CEF stands for the Connecting Europe Facility, a funding program for infrastructure (i.e., transport, energy, telecoms) aimed at boosting economic growth in the EU. The CEF’s budget stood at EUR 30.4bn (2014–2020) as of November 2016.

The CEF Automated Translation (CEF AT) tender process recently concluded with seven vendors emerging as winners: Infeurope, CrossLang, ESTeam, DFKI, Tilde, Athena Research and Innovation Center, and ELDA.

“The contracts are aimed at substantially improving the quality and coverage of machine translation services on the CEF AT platform,” Rihard Kalnins told to Slator. Kalnins is Business Development Manager for the Machine Translation Group at Tilde, which leads the consortium for Lot 3 of the contract.

Lot 3, valued at EUR 1.6m, has to do with, as Kalnins described it, procuring additional language resources to improve the CEF AT platform and “provide related data refinement and processing services.”

He said Tilde is also part of the DFKI-led consortium for Lot 2, valued at EUR 2.8m, building a language resource repository in all official EU languages and CEF-related countries, a helpdesk, and providing intellectual property rights support.

Kalnins further confirmed that, as far as the lots Tilde is involved in are concerned, they are simple service contracts not framework agreements, the contract values are ceilings, not estimates, and the contracts are new, not renewals. He added that Tilde will deliver on the contract across 36 months.

Meanwhile, Luc Meertens, CEO of CrossLang, described Lot 1, valued at EUR 1.4m, as “a service contract to set up a technology assessment framework for automated translation solutions.” CrossLang is a translation automation firm made up of 15 consultants, software engineers, and computational linguists.

Meertens explained the Lot 1 consortium (with Infeurope and ESTeam) has a twofold task: “market prospecting activities on the one hand, and assessments or trials of MT systems and LT processing modules for different CEF languages on the other.”

He said CrossLang will organize different technology workshops with practical demonstrations of technology solutions that can be applied to the CEF Automated Translation platform. Meertens said this is a new contract for CrossLang and pointed out that, as stated in the tender, the contract duration should not exceed 38 months and the EUR 1.4m budget.

Josef van Genabith of Lot 2 consortium coordinator DFKI said the contract will be carried out over three years, adding “DFKI is also Task leader for T1 Secretariat, T2 Language Resources Board, T7 Conferences, T10 Advisory, assistance and consultancy task.”

Among the seven winners of the CEF AT contract, only nonprofit research institute DFKI is not an SME. The CEF initiative is part of the European Union’s Digital Single Market Strategy, which, according to the EC has “many actions…essential for the European internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Image: Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice President (Courtesy of the EC – Audiovisual Service)