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Symbian to receive £19 million in EU 'bail-out'

A European-led embedded computing initiative has announced plans to invest €22 million (£19 million) in ailing mobile operating system Symbian.

The money comes from the Artemis Joint Technology Initiative, a collaborative venture that brings the European Commission and Governments of member states together with Artemisia, an industrial association representing the research community and European industry.

The cash will help fund the development of next-generation technologies for Symbian, which the Initiative says has been "specifically identified as a unique technology that is a vital focus for European-centric mobile software development".

But it's hard not to see the cash injection as a European rescue package for the local hero, which has been struggling of late. Last month, Symbian veteran Lee Williams stepped down as CEO after mobile manufacturers Samsung and Sony-Ericsson announced they were ditching the platform from their devices.

Using the new cash, The Symbian Foundation is to launch SYMBEOSE, or "Symbian - the Embedded Operating System for Europe", a consortium comprising 24 organisations from eight European countries.

The consortium's members include major mobile device manufacturers, hardware and service integration professional services, major consumer electronics companies, mobile network operators, application developers, universities and research institutions.

A post on the Symbian blog outlined plans to develop the platform for multiprocessor devices and cloud applications, saying: "We and the consortium are very excited by this opportunity to spearhead next-generation technologies on Symbian and we're thrilled that the EC has decided to invest in the future of the Symbian platform and its global ecosystem."

In terms of raw numbers, Symbian is still a major force in the mobile market, installed on more than 40 per cent of handsets - though recent research from Gartner predicts that rivals such as Apple's iOS - and particularly Google's Android - will make serious in-roads into that share.