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Centres of Excellence for computing applications


Specific challenge: Establishing a limited number of Centres of Excellence (CoE) is necessary to ensure EU competitiveness in the application of HPC for addressing scientific, industrial or societal challenges. CoEs will be user-focused, develop a culture of excellence, both scientific and industrial, placing computational science and the harnessing of 'big data' at the centre of scientific discovery and industrial competitiveness. CoEs may be 'thematic', addressing specific application domains such as medicine, life science or energy; 'transversal' on computational science (e.g. algorithms, analytics, numerical methods etc.); or 'challenge-driven', addressing societal or industrial challenges (e.g. ageing, climate change, clean transport etc.); or a combination of these types.

This topic will be carried out in the context of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in HPC, contributing to the implementation of the EU strategy on High Performance Computing (HPC), in particular to achieving excellence in HPC application delivery and use.

Scope: The CoEs are expected to be:

(1) User-driven, with the application users and owners playing a decisive role in governance;

(2) integrated: encompassing not only HPC software but also relevant aspects of hardware, data management/storage, connectivity, security, etc.;

(3) multidisciplinary: with domain expertise co-located alongside HPC system, software and algorithm expertise;

(4) distributed with a possible central hub, federating capabilities around Europe, exploiting available competences, and ensuring synergies with national/local programmes;

Proposals for CoEs will address:

•     Provision of services such as: developing, optimising (including if needed re-design) and scaling HPC application codes towards peta and exascale computing; testing, validating and maintaining codes and managing the associated data; quality assurance; co-design of hardware, software and codes; consultancy to industry and SMEs; research in HPC applications; and addressing the skills gap in computational science.

•     Working in synergy with the pan-European HPC infrastructure, including by identifying suitable applications for co-design activities relevant to the development of HPC technologies towards exa-scale.

•     Sustainability embracing a wide range of service models and funding from a mixture of sources, including through sponsorship by industry or hybrid public-private models. Clear business plans are expected to be presented in the proposal.

•     Creating communities around specific codes that impact the target sectors, involving ISVs (independent software vendors) where appropriate, and exchange of best practices in particular for SMEs.

•     A governance structure driven by the needs of the users. Commercial management expertise will be needed along with technical expertise to manage industry clients and supply chains, in addition to users from academia.

CoE should provide pan-European support including to European countries and regions with less HPC-resources.

8-10 CoEs are expected to be funded in this topic in order to test the concept. A follow up call is expected in the future that will build on the results and lessons learnt from the present call.

International co-operation is encouraged where there are clear mutual benefits and the partners have the relevant HPC capacity.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 4 and 5 million would allow this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:  

         Improved access to computing applications and expertise that enables researchers and industry to be more productive, leading to scientific excellence;

         Improved competitiveness for companies and SMEs through access to CoE expertise and services;

         European leadership in applications that address societal challenges or are important for industrial applications through better code performance and better code maintenance and availability;

         More scientists and engineers trained in the use of computational methods and optimisation of applications.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions