Millions of pounds of public funding have been put into two projects designed to promote open source in the UK and across Europe.

The Software Quality Observatory for Open Source Software (SQO-OSS) has raised 2.47 million euros (£1.66m) from the European Union to test open source projects for code quality, with the aim of showing businesses which projects are the most technically robust. And the National Open Centre (NOC), set up by several UK public bodies, will open its doors in Birmingham in January as a way of influencing government policy on open source usage.

SQO-OSS is funded by its members, with matching funding from the European Commission. The project's argument is that many businesses are wary of open source because they're not convinced of the software's technical quality.

In response, the project will test program source code and publish a league table of its findings, with applications ranked by quality. This should have the side benefit of highlighting relatively unknown applications that may be of high quality, a project leader said.

As part of the project SQO-OSS will deliver a plug-in-based quality assessment platform with a web and IDE front end, and will develop a set of software quality metrics. Its output will be released under the BSD licence.

SQO-OSS is led by Athens University, with other members including the UK's Sirius Corporation, Germany's KDE e.V (the business arm of the KDE desktop project) and ProSyst, Sweden's KDAB and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Birmingham's National Open Centre is designed to raise awareness of open source among UK public bodies by hosting conferences and seminars and publishing research papers. Some British cities, such as Bristol, have made moves toward embracing open source or open standards. Generally, however, UK public bodies are far less aware of open source than their counterparts in countries such as Germany, France or Spain, which have all instituted major open source projects.

The NOC's founders include the National Computing Centre, Birmingham City Council and the council's Digital Birmingham project, with participation from OpenAdvantage and Midland Open Source Technologies. Digital Birmingham is aiming to make the city a leading European tech centre by 2010.