EuroCC@UK: the UK’s National Competence Centre in HPC, HPDA and AI
8 November 2021
EPCC leads EuroCC@ UK in collaboration with STFC Hartree. Both centres are drawing on their complementary expertise to deliver the programme’s goals.
The UK is an advanced country in the context of HPC, with a long history of infrastructure provision and computational science research by academia and industry. Both EPCC and the Hartree Centre have significant experience in supporting and collaborating with academia and industry. Since it was established in 1990, EPCC has collaborated with UK science and industry, as well as providing high-quality accessible training courses. The Hartree Centre is funded to work primarily with industry and has undertaken more than 160 collaborative projects with companies since its foundation in 2012, with its training activities focused on meeting the needs of UK industry.
During EuroCC@ UK’s first year, both centres have been active in a range of areas including training, industry engagement, facilitating scientific and technical expertise transfer, and competence mapping. Here is a selection of our activities.
Training and skills development
EPCC is a recognised leader in high-performance computing (HPC) training and innovative training delivery mechanisms, while the Hartree Centre has a strong focus on training for industry. Over the past year the team at EPCC has investigated innovative training methodologies and accessibility.
The Hartree Centre has also been exploring different ways of engaging industry in training activities, for example business webinars for SMEs on the topics of high-performance data analytics and artificial intelligence techniques.
Many HPC cycles are now consumed by users of pre-compiled research software packages, which requires a different approach from standard HPC training. In response, EPCC has delivered a set of courses relating to package usage to gain feedback on best practice in this area.
Technology transfer and business development
The partners have focused on ensuring that EuroCC@ UK has the correct mechanisms in place to support technology transfer in the UK, in terms of HPC know-how, applications, tools and mechanisms. Key components of this approach are being implemented, providing a supportive environment for organisations to explore the latest digital technologies and skills, develop proofs-of-concept, and apply them to industry challenges.
Collaboration with industry
EPCC and Hartree both already have a range of mechanisms for collaborating with industry: from simple cycle sales, consultancy, and development projects, to full-scale collaborations. Two examples of first-year outcomes are given below.
An awareness campaign has been started by EPCC, aligned with its normal commercial outreach activities, to promote the opportunities that EuroCC@ UK can provide to UK industry. We are also assisting companies in preparing bids for further funding – a key objective of the programme
EPCC has also initiated a pilot study under EuroCC@ UK, with additional support by the Scottish Funding Council, which is investigating the application of novel machine learning techniques to the recycling of packaging materials (see p4). A second pilot study has been confirmed and we have a pipeline of interested companies with whom we are discussing future pilots.
Access to scientific and technical expertise
EuroCC@ UK has worked to facilitate access to scientific and technical expertise and knowledge pools. Examples include:
• Active contribution by EPCC to the UK and global HPC community, working to promote an open, cohesive, and collaborative UK HPC community that facilitates access to technical expertise and knowledge pools.
• Participation by EPCC in a comprehensive review of the skills required by Research Software Engineers (RSEs) in HPC and their future education and training needs, focusing on the role of RSEs as we prepare for the arrival of Exascale supercomputers.
An initial competence mapping, carried out by EuroCC@ UK, to gain an overview of the existing HPC, Big Data and AI competencies in the UK.
EuroCC will raise participating countries to a common high level in high-performance computing (HPC), high-performance data analytics (HPDA), and artificial intelligence (AI).
National Competence Centres will be responsible for surveying and documenting the core HPC, HPDA, and AI activities and expertise in each participating country. The ultimate goal is to make HPC available to different users from science, industry, public administration, and wider society.
EuroCC@ UK is jointly co-ordinated by EPCC, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Hartree Centre. It is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 as part of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking and through national funding programmes within the partner countries.