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New £3.5m supercomputing investment set to boost small London businesses

Queen Mary, University of London has joined three other top universities to invest in a new £3.5m supercomputing hub to power growth and innovation in London and the Midlands.

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The University of Warwick will lead Queen Mary, the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham to launch MidPlus, a state-of-the–art high-performance computing centre.

By opening up the hub’s vast number-crunching power to local firms, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and larger businesses will receive vital help with the modelling, simulation and analysis needed to design world-leading products and services.

MidPlus will provide extra computing capacity to sectors such as aerospace, automotive, biomedical and advanced materials as well as delivering supercomputing skills to the local workforce.

The investment consists of £2m from the research funding agency EPSRC and a combined £1.5m from the four partner universities.

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

As well as offering significantly increased capacity to local firms, Midplus will also deliver consultancy and training services which tap into the universities’ combined expertise in high-performance computing.

The new centre’s facilities will be available to businesses in London and along the M1/M6 corridor in the East and West Midlands.

MidPlus will also significantly extend the current computing power available within the region’s universities. A 2,900-core computing cluster at Queen Mary is designed to provide significant capacity for tasks that involve running large numbers of simulations with different parameters or data sets.

Director of Midplus, Professor Mark Rodger at the University of Warwick, said: “In the Midlands and London, key industries such as aerospace, automotive and advanced materials rely on high-level supercomputing power to develop new products.

“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 - that’s why Midplus is set to provide such a far-reaching boost to established and emerging industries in the Midlands and London.”

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