Published on 23 Apr 2018

20 years of ITEA: From the generation of an idea to becoming a significant player with impact in Europe and beyond

Double-interview with Jan Lostroh, one of the founders of ITEA and Zeynep Sarılar, current ITEA Chairwoman

In the ITEA magazine of March, Jan Lohstroh, currently Secretary General of the ARTEMIS Industry Association and one of the founders of ITEA, looks back at the beginnings of ITEA, to the autumn of 1997 and a meeting of the management of Philips Research and the innovation management team of Philips Consumer Electronics. This meeting concluded that the existing innovation funding programmes in Europe were too much hardware oriented and that software needed a boost as more and more systems were becoming software-intensive. He proposed to set up a EUREKA Cluster for software and together with Jan van den Biesen from Philips Corporate R&D Government Relations, gathered 15 industry representatives interested in this new initiative, in a meeting on 27 January 1998 at Schiphol airport. This meeting led to the creation of a ITEA Starting Group which drafted the ‘ITEA Rainbow Book’ for leapfrogging the in-systems software gap to boost European Competitiveness’. The upshot of this was the award of the EUREKA label on 1 October 1998 for the EUREKA Cluster ITEA - ‘Information Technology for European Advancement’.

Once the Cluster was set up, many persons have contributed significantly to the development and growth of ITEA into the significant player with impact in Europe and beyond that it is right now. “I am very proud that ITEA did very well from the beginning,” Jan Lohstroh concludes, “and that it is doing still very well today. Cooperation in Europe is a must and ITEA has contributed significantly to that.


Current ITEA Chairwoman, Zeynep Sarılar is indebted to the legacy inherited from her predecessors and the foundations laid for ITEA today. When Zeynep first became part of the ITEA Community as part of a project consortium back in 2004, “ITEA was a smaller community than the one we know these days and while a lot has changed over the past decade or so, the high level of ambition we have today going into the future was also very much in evidence then. That is a constant factor. As is the demand ITEA has for projects to have an economic impact, something that will continue to be a growing focus”.

Recent developments in ITEA are the increasing customer orientation and the way in which collaboration has taken on a broader perspective, both geographically and in respect of interfacing with areas related to software-intensive systems in a world that is becoming increasingly digitalised.

To the question of “where might ITEA be twenty years on from now?”, Zeynep states: “we are adaptive and flexible, we are able to shape ourselves according to the market. These are qualities that will ensure we remain relevant and impactful.  We can foresee the impact of some technologies coming our way in the next decade, but some innovations will take us by surprise – the only thing we can do is stay curious, open to learn and ready to adapt. If we can do this, then I think we will be prepared for whatever the future holds for us in twenty years from now.”

Discover the full article in the ITEA magazine.