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SESAME NET Report Summary

Project ID: 654416
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SESAME NET (Supercomputing Expertise for SmAll and Medium Enterprise Network)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

1.1 Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project
HPC competence centres have been set up in some EU Member States to facilitate access and take-up by industry and in particular SMEs of HPC services. As yet these centres do not cover the whole of Europe. The call, HPC Competence Centres for SMEs (EINFRA-6-2014) clearly defined its objective to support a network of HPC competence centres to assist in the delivery of two overall objectives:

• the promotion of access to computational expertise anywhere in Europe and
• enabling the dissemination of best practice in HPC industrial use particularly for SMEs.

The SESAME Network proposal brought together a mixed consortium of HPC Centres and facilities with experience of working with industrial partners (including large enterprises, SMEs and micro-SMEs), academia and collaborative research projects between industrial and academic partners.

The consortium – the founder members of SESAME Net - includes 14 centres and facilities who have already gained some experience of working with SMEs (e.g. IT4I, ICHEC, CESGA), national centres (e.g. ICHEC, GRNET) who are members of PRACE, the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe , National Facilities who are not members of PRACE (e.g. UVT, Romania, RBI Croatia but who have significant expertise in HPC within leading-edge academic research projects), regional centres (e.g. CESGA, VSC Flanders) and private sector operated centres (e.g. Yotta, Croatia).

The aim of the project in meeting the overall objectives of the call is to:

• create an inclusive network, with other HPC Centres welcome to join
• encourage centres outside the formed consortium to be represented at workshops and to contribute to best practice materials and training provision
• ensure that the network exchanges best practices relating to the promotion of access to computational expertise anywhere in Europe.

The activities were organised into six Work Packages (WPs).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

1.2 Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The Supercomputing Expertise for Small & Medium Size Enterprise (SESAME) Network project was funded under EINFRA-6, which set out the scope to:

1) Create a network of existing HPC competence centres providing HPC services to exchange best practices and pool technical, expertise or business resources;
2) Raise awareness and visibility of the benefits of HPC for SMEs in particular for countries that do not currently have such centres;
3) Identify a pool of SMEs and available expertise in the different business areas at European level, and mechanisms to match SME needs and the available expertise;
4) Develop training (in synergy with the activities carried out by other organisations providing specific training) for SMEs in HPC.

The activities in Year 1 have focused on item (1), with much of the work carried out has been on ‘Defining the Network’, its Constitution, branding and establishing an identity (WP2) the collecting and sharing of Best Practices (WP3) and building a database of technical expertise and business resources. A number of centres, not part of the Consortium have been identified and have been approached to get involved. A table of these is included in the detailed description of activities under WP5. The application process has been designed and has recently gone live on-line via the website and in the first few weeks there have been applications received from four prospective members.

In addressing item (2), to raise awareness Use Cases have been compiled to demonstrate the benefits of HPC for SMEs under (WP3) and various workshops have taken place to raise awareness (WP4) – a list of events is included in Table 6, with an assessment of the audience reached shown in Table 7 – it is estimated that over 1500 SMEs have been reached.

A survey was designed and sent via many mechanisms, including Chambers of Commerce, to try to identify SMEs for (3), and whilst the response rate in terms of completed questionnaires is just over 100, through these and other activities it is estimated that SESAME Net has reached over 250 SMEs, of which at least 20% are expected to join the network – actual estimated 60 new SME members before September. There has also been some focused activity on match making, using the first Fortissimo call to introduce some cross border collaborations (WP5), and engage maritime related SMEs in an Atlantic Arc ‘Blue Computing’ initiative.

For addressing item (4), there is a bespoke WP dedicated to identifying and meeting training needs. Information has been collated from the current members on training materials and courses available, and this has been reviewed in the context of responses received from SMEs in the survey, and drawing on this information, and the existing knowledge and experiences in each of the HPC Competency Centres, a series of modules has been identified for development and delivery in year 2. See WP6 below for more details.

Details of the work carried out is set out in the progress reporting for each Work Package in Section 7 of this report, together with the next steps for Year 2.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

1.3 Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

HPC related technologies are recognized as having significant potential to contribute to the Digitising Europe programme , and through SESAME Net, we believe the project can contribute to the overall objectives to:

• facilitate a smooth transition to a smart economy
• prepare the next generation of products and services
• boost innovation capacity across industry
• increase the European GDP by up to €110bn/year
Raising awareness of the benefits of HPC to the SME community, and providing information, on where to find support, improving access, and mechanisms for SME users to get started will help to increase the size of the HPC market. Capturing specific quantitative data on direct impact on GDP from SMEs can be difficult. Wherever possible, information will be sought from SMEs who take-up new products and services related to HPC as a consequence of engaging with the Network
Addressing the lack of awareness and understanding of the benefits of using the E-Infrastructure is listed at the top of the barriers in the take-up of the technology. Raising awareness requires a communications process to explain and demonstrate to companies what simulation and modelling can do for their businesses, and hand-holding from familiarisation to developing a working knowledge of simulation and modelling tools to enhance their ability to apply and communicate new product solutions; it is time consuming and hard work. Awareness teams need to reach into businesses to provide focused engagement, discuss the business’ requirements and provide information and demonstrate what is available within the e-infrastructure to help surmount that problem. To be effective, we will continue to devise more ‘show and tell’ activities, videos, and case studies.
A number of videos and case studies are now available on the SESAME Net website, and the plan is for the Competency Centre Network to continue to build a repository and curate this information, and be the focal point for future activity. Economies of scale on marketing and communication will be achieved, as this umbrella brand becomes more established, and materials updated to provide a comprehensive set of communication tools, case studies and best practices.
Furthermore, the SESAME Net Technical Forum has been set up, which is the first forum of its type in Europe dedicated to addressing HPC targeted services for SMEs. Following a short period of operation, more than 18 topics, from HPC Technology to Business have been posted, and the number of posts steadily increasing. This is likely to see a sharp rise, as the recruitment of new members gets in to full flow, and the topics covered is broadened. The technical forum is publicly available.
A key aspiration of the project is to create an inclusive Network, and encourage more centres and SMEs to join. Given that there are quite a number of projects (and centres) targeting SMEs, the challenge is to ensure that the Network is able to add value to the activities of the prospective members, and to attract them to join and contribute. As more centres join the network, and increasing numbers of SMEs become engaged, SESAME Net will become a focal point at European level for expertise in HPC use by SMEs.
The value of the Network for SMEs may materialise indirectly – through the individual members and centres and their shared experiences, as every HPC centre will have the opportunity to develop and refine their SME engagement strategies. This will eventually result in better success rates for HPC uptake and expanding the market. Already, there has been some success as several SESAME Net centres are adopting strategies from other partners to reach out to SMEs in a more efficient manner.
HPC centres less experienced in dealing with SMEs may be the first to benefit since they can learn all ‘tricks and trades’ from centres that have much more experience. However, also centres with more experience have clear benefits from joining SESAMENET. Through the network, new experiences, innovative approaches and novel ideas are available that may challenge the more experienced centre to leave the beaten path as the Network promotes continuous improvement.
SMEs can very well be part of this network, as SESAMENET enables SMEs to understand what HPC is and how it can be used in their business. The network serves as a first port of call, with the supercomputing world, helping them navigate to the right training, connecting them to centres that offer infrastructure or services, providing links and assistance to other EU initiatives and HPC Centres across Europe.

Related information

Record Number: 192794 / Last updated on: 2016-12-14
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