Boosting UK competitiveness using cognitive computing and big data

9 Dec 2014 12:25 PM

Government investment of £113 million in new high performance computing capability is expected to give UK business a two-year head start over international competitors, Science Minister Greg Clark has said.

The investment, announced in the Autumn Statement on 3 December, will substantially expand the data-centric cognitive computing research capabilities of STFC’s Hartree Centre at Sci-Tech Daresbury, through enhanced collaboration with IBM.

Universities, Science and Cities Minister Greg Clark said “The Government’s investment will create an exciting innovation environment that will enable UK industry to exploit value from advanced computing and big data to create new and improved products, services and manufacturing processes.”

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC, said: “Harnessing data intensive science to the needs of industry could transform every business sector as well as every scientific discipline. Currently, even data experts find it difficult to extract insights from many existing large data sets. The Government’s five-year investment in the Hartree Centre will deliver a step-change in capability, and plans to bring in significant knowledge and expertise from IBM which will help ensure our science and industry remains at the very forefront of research and development.”

Cognitive computing systems ‘learn’ in similar ways to human development. The goal is to enable not only scientists, but doctors, bankers, retailers and others to extract the full value of their data and thus make better, more accurate and more timely decisions and discoveries.

As well as creating the new structures, architectures and tools needed to help non-scientists take advantage of big data, the Hartree Centre will deliver computing capability to the international Square Kilometre Array project through its headquarters at Jodrell Bank, and to a variety of national projects including the Turing Centre in London, and the new national materials institute in Manchester.

Notes to Editors

For further images and information please contact:

Wendy Ellison
STFC Press Officer

The STFC Hartree Centre: Part of the STFC Daresbury Laboratory, and located within the Sci-Tech Daresbury science and innovation campus, the Hartree Centre was set up to drive growth and innovation between science and industry. Every day, the Hartree Centre collaborates with industrial clients and research partners on projects that enable them to produce better outcomes, products and services, and to do that faster and cheaper than conventional R&D workflows. In a world increasingly driven by data, harnessing this data and extracting new insights from it is the key to competitive and societal advantage.

The Hartree Centre is an industrial gateway to world-class high performance computing (HPC) and simulation technology. A research collaboration in association with IBM and originally underpinned by more than £37.5m of initial government funding, it is home to the UK’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to the development, deployment and demonstration of new software, enabling new HPC collaborations that promote UK economic growth.

Working with the Virtual Engineering Centre, in which it is a partner with the University of Liverpool, the Hartree Centre uses modelling, simulation and visualisation facilities to enable business growth and competitiveness.

For more information on STFC’s Hartree Centre

Square Kilometre Array

Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research and Innovation

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

The STFC Scientific Computing Department provides large scale HPC facilities, computing data services and infrastructure at both STFC Daresbury Laboratory and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The department also includes world leading experts in a number of scientific fields including computational chemistry, computational engineering, materials science, band theory, computational biology, advanced research computing, atomic and molecular physics, numerical analysis, software engineering, data services, petascale storage, scientific information and scientific computing technology.

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd.

It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).