Science and Technology Facilities Council
Printable version

£313 Million Boost For UK Big Data Research

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson yesterday reveiled a £313 million partnership with information technology leader IBM (NYSE: IBM) to boost Big Data research in the UK.

Following on from Government’s £113 million commitment in the Autumn Statement to expand the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) run Hartree Centre at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire over the next five years, IBM will further support the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million.

IBM’s contributions will include:

  • access to the latest data-centric and cognitive computing technologies, including its world-class ‘Watson’ cognitive computing platform;
  • at least 24 IBM researchers to be based at the Hartree Centre to work side-by-side with existing researchers;
  • joint commercialisation of intellectual property assets produced in partnership with STFC, which runs the Hartree Centre.

Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said:

“We live in an information economy – from the smart devices we use every day to the super-computers that helped find the Higgs Boson, the power of advanced computing means we now have access to vast amounts of data.

This partnership with IBM, which builds on our £113 million investment to expand the Hartree Centre, will help businesses make the best use of Big Data to develop better products and services that will boost productivity, drive growth and create jobs.”

Advanced data-centric and cognitive computing technologies enable non-computer specialists to gain insight from the vast amounts of data being generated yesterday, and do so in a more natural, human-friendly way. Delivered through the cloud, IBM’s Watson analyses high volumes of data, understands complex questions posed in natural language, and proposes evidence based answers. It continuously learns, gaining in value and knowledge over time, from previous interactions.

David Stokes, Chief Executive for IBM in the UK and Ireland, said:

“We’re at the dawn of a new era of cognitive computing, during which advanced datacentric computing models and open innovation approaches will allow technology to greatly augment decision-making capabilities for business and government.

The expansion of our collaboration with STFC builds upon Hartree's successful engagement with industry and its record in commercialising technological developments, and provides a world-class environment using Watson and OpenPOWER technologies to extend the boundaries of Big Data and cognitive computing.”

The Hartree Centre will directly benefit from breakthrough innovations rapidly emerging from the OpenPOWER Foundation, an open development community backed by IBM, NVIDIA, Mellanox and over 100 other organisations worldwide. The research programme will leverage OpenPOWER high performance computing innovations to enable complex analytics on massive amounts of data.

The Hartree Centre is already helping businesses like Unilever and GSK use high performance computing to improve the stability of home products such as fabric softeners and to pinpoint links between genes and diseases.

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC, said:

“Data intensive techniques are transforming every discipline of science, and connecting these capabilities to the needs of industry has the potential to revolutionise every business sector.

The Government’s five-year investment in the Hartree Centre will deliver a step-change in capability in this area, and will bring in significant knowledge and expertise from IBM Research that will help ensure our science and industry remains at the very forefront of research and development.”

STFC and IBM will engage in collaborative projects with third parties and draw on the scientific excellence of UK universities to develop advanced software solutions to address real world challenges in academia, industry and government.

More than two dozen IBM researchers will be based at the Hartree Centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury, and will work side-by-side with the Centre’s researchers to develop new tools, algorithms and approaches to Big Data that will help UK industry and commerce take greater advantage of the wealth of insights hidden in that data.

Notes to editors:

Big Data is one of The Government’s Eight Great Technologies to support UK science strengths and business capabilities.

Images of Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson’s visit to STFC’s Hartree Centre yesterday are available on request.


Wendy Ellison 
Tel: 01925 603232 / 07919 548012

John Galvez 
Tel: 07734 104275

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 
Victoria Steven 
Tel: 0207 215 5981 / 07766990451

About IBM Research

Now entering its 70th year, IBM Research continues to define the future of technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. IBM Research break-throughs helped the company achieve an industry record 7,534 patents in 2014, marking the 22nd consecutive year IBM topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients. Scientists from IBM Research have produced six Nobel Laureates, 10 U.S. National Medals of Technology; five U.S. National Medals of Science, six Turing Awards, 19 inductees in the National Academy of Sciences and 20 inductees in the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame. 
For more information, visit

STFC Hartree Centre

Part of the STFC Darebury Laboratory, and located within the Sci-Tech Daresbury science and innovation campus, the Hartree Centre is driving growth and innovation between science and industry using intense computing.

Every day, the Hartree Centre collaborates with industrial clients and research partners on projects that create insights and value using high performance computing, Big Data analytics, simulation and modelling. By combining one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world dedicated to industrial engagement with access to data scientists, engineers and software specialists, the Centre is enabling organisations of all sizes to produce better outcomes, products and services more quickly and cost-effectively than they can through conventional R&D workflows.

Underpinned by nearly £170m of Government funding, the Hartree Centre is enabling academics and industry within the UK and internationally to solve research challenges, establish competitive advantage and stimulate economic growth.

In partnerships, the Hartree Centre is also developing the next generation of supercomputing architectures and software, combining existing best practice with innovation to deliver faster, more energy sustainable solutions capable of meeting the challenges of data intensive computing.

Twitter: @hartreecentre
LinkedIn: /company/stfc-hartree-centre
Case studies:


Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Science and Technology Facilities Council

Resilience & Cyber4Good