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Warwick and other UK universities set to launch a ‘super-hub’ computing centre

University of Warwick

Rozina Sabur

Warwick and three other top UK universities are currently investing in MidPlus, a supercomputing hub which will be based in the Midlands and London.

Warwick is taking a leading role within the group to launch this high-performance computing centre which hopes to help SMEs and larger firms with modelling, simulation and analysis, which are needed to design world-leading products and services.

The £3.5 million scheme plans to open up its vast “number-crunching” power to local firms and thus power growth and innovation within the areas. The centre will also provide extra computing capacity to sectors such as aerospace, automotive, biomedical and advanced materials.

In addition the centre’s facilities, open to businesses along the M1/M6 corridor in the East and West Midlands and London, will deliver supercomputing skills to the local workforce. It will also provide consultancy and training services from the universities’ HPC experts.

Whilst the centre serves big businesses, Warwick has argued that it is a great research tool for the University. According to a spokes person for the University: “While there will be work with industry a great many of our industry projects involve postgraduate research and also may involve undergraduate students through the undergraduate research scheme”.

The scheme has been funded by £2 million from the research funding agency EPSRC and £1.5 million from each of the four partners – University of Warwick, University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham and Queen Mary, University of London.

The University has declared that the move is in line with a Government drive to increase the UK’s capacity to exploit high-performance computing in optimising process design, a key requirement, therefore to boost industries such as advanced manufacturing, scientific research and financial services.

However, when speaking to the Boar, Anna Blackaby, International Press Officer and Faculty of Science Press Officer at the University, responded that it was “too early to say” when asked about how much revenue it would create for Warwick. However she also stated that the University of Warwick generates 80 per cent of its income, “so this is a case of the university investing in its own infrastructure”.

Director of Midplus, Professor Mark Rodger, told Computer World: “The large set-up cost to exploit high-performance computing, both in terms of equipment and expertise, can be a major barrier to SMEs expanding into newer or bigger markets, so MidPlus will make it easier for them to step up into the next league.

“It is vital that the UK maintains its investment in e-infrastructure in order to compete on a global scale.”
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