The National Grid Initiatives of the South Eastern European (SEE) countries have joined to form the South Eastern European Grid-Enabled eInfrastructure Development project (SEE-GRID; www.see-grid.org), which had its official start date on 1 May.

SEE-GRID aims to ease the digital divide between the SEE countries and the rest of Europe, with the ultimate objective of integrating the region into the pan-European Grid infrastructure. Initiatives like SEE-GRID can play a key role in an area where regional unrest was until recently hindering co-operation and economic growth. The activation of the Sarajevo-Belgrade communications link that was established within the SEEREN (South Eastern European Research and Education Network) project is an example of the concrete benefits that such projects can provide.

SEE-GRID will support dissemination activities about Grids, conferences and training material, demonstration test-beds for hands-on experience, operational and support centres, as well as organizing feasibility studies and preparing roadmaps for integration of the SEE region into the European Research Area via an extended Pan-European Grid infrastructure.

The initiative is coordinated by the Greek Research and Technology Network (GRNET) and the project consortium consists of representatives from National Grid Initiatives in Bulgaria (CLPP-BAS); Romania (ICI); Turkey (TUBITAK-ULAKBIM); Hungary (MTA-SZTAKI); Albania (ASA); Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIHARNET); F.Y.R. of Macedonia (UKIM); Serbia-Montenegro (UOB); and Croatia (RBI). CERN contributes in an advisory role.

To ensure the necessary critical mass, 18 regional research and academic institutions have been selected to participate as third parties to the consortium partners, and the entire project is further strengthened through close collaboration with the major pan-European Grid infrastructure project, entitled Enabling Grids for E-science in Europe (EGEE).

The SEEREN and SEE-GRID projects, co-funded by the European Commission and coordinated by GRNET, represent the commencement of new regional efforts in promising science and technology areas, and are milestones for integrating the region within pan-European eInfrastructures initiatives. This will help ease the digital divide, pave the way for future enlargement steps of the EU and contribute to overall stability and peace in the south-eastern European region.