Hartree Centre receives £313 million partnership with IBM

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The UK government has unveiled plans for a  £313 million partnership with  IBM to boost Big Data research in the UK.

Following from Government’s £113 million commitment in the Autumn Statement to expand the Hartree Centre at Daresbury over the next five years, IBM will provide further support to the project with a package of technology and onsite expertise worth up to £200 million.

IBM is well known for its cognitive computing and data centric computing research, including the ‘Watson’ cognitive computing platform. The UK has already begun to invest in this technology with the announcement in November last year that two UK universities are to start teaching cognitive computing courses in collaboration with IBM. By providing access to these systems, the UK government hopes to better position itself to tackle big data challenges that face academia and industry over the coming years.

Jo Johnson, UK Government Minister for Universities and Science, said: ‘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.’

IBM will base 24 researchers at the Hartree Centre to work side-by-side with existing researchers. The two organisations will commercialise intellectual property assets produced through this partnership together, so that both the UK and IBM can benefit from the progress made at the Hartree Centre.

Advanced data-centric and cognitive computing technologies enable non-computer specialists to gain insight from the vast amounts of data being generated today, 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 data-centric computing models and open innovation approaches will allow technology to greatly augment decision-making capabilities for business and government.’

Stokes continued: ‘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 innovations rapidly emerging from the OpenPOWER Foundation, an open development community backed by IBM, NVIDIA, Mellanox and well over a hundred other organisations worldwide. The research programme will leverage OpenPOWER high performance computing innovations to enable complex analytics on massive amounts of data.

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC, said: ‘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.’