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Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Modeling and Advanced Computing

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MMAC (Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Modeling and Advanced Computing)

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

The goal of the MMAC project is to establish a Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Modeling and Advanced Computing in Science and Engineering in Bulgaria by a consortium of three high level scientific institutions. The members of the consortium are two leading scientific institutions in Bulgaria in the area of Mathematical Modeling (MM) and Advanced Computing (AC) –the Institute of Information and Communication Technologies (IICT) (coordinator) and the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics (IMI), both from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, as well as an internationally leading organization - Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien). During the first project stage (12 months) a long-term science and innovation strategy of the future Centre and an extensive, detailed and robust Business Plan for its foundation have been developed. These documents are based on an analysis of how these plans fit to the Bulgarian Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation in order to enable novel and strong innovations as well as developed capabilities.

Overall objectives:
• Establish a Centre of Excellence for Mathematical Modeling and Advanced Computing in Science and Engineering hosted in Bulgaria, with a long term horizon of cooperation between IICT, IMI and TU Wien.
• Transform the institutional landscape in research, technology development and innovations in Bulgaria towards significantly better performance for intelligent growth of industry and society.
• Significantly improve the research and innovation capacity in Bulgaria by supporting focused research which will create the capacity needed to solve challenging problems with high scientific and societal impact.
• Adopt a concept for further extension and improvement of the existing computational infrastructure of the CoE based on the current needs of the CoE key research and innovation areas.

Specific objectives for Stage 1 and Stage 2:
• Create a vision for further developing the human potential of the CoE on the basis of analytical snapshots of the current status and requirements of the CoE’s key research and innovation areas.
• Create an attractive environment for young scientists and provide opportunities for the best graduates in Bulgaria to start and develop their scientific career.
• Encourage the establishment of start-ups and other modern forms of bringing scientific results to practice.
• Ensure further development and improvement of the innovation potential of the CoE through a comprehensive plan to promote co-operations with businesses and public institutions.

The project activities are designed to increase Bulgaria’s research and innovation potential in priority areas recognized as being essential for the future development of this country. The MMAC project is coordinated by IICT, Bulgaria and has two stages. The first one had a duration of 12 months and a budget of EUR 370300. About 70 researchers from the three partners collaborated in the MMAC project during the first stage, but suggestions and feedback (including participation in the project survey) were received from many researchers not directly involved in the project to ensure high quality feedback. 25 deliverables were produced and submitted to the EC on time.
The reporting period (12 months starting in June 2015) covers the whole duration of the first project stage. The project successfully reached all defined milestones thus building a solid foundation for the second project stage.

- Work Package 1: The overall project administrative and technical coordination was carried out. All management and communication tools were developed and maintained. Five meetings of the PMB and two meetings of the PSC were organized. Following EC recommendations regarding ethical issues, nine additional project deliverables (D6.1 – D6.9) regarding ethical requirements were generated. Four project progress reports were completed and submitted. All 25 project deliverables were assessed for quality control and submitted to the EC on time.

- Work Package 2: In order to analyse the research capacity in MM and AC, an expert group (EG) of experienced researchers with expertise in the project thematic key areas was established. The EG worked according to guidelines and performance indicators approved by PMB. Based on the EG report, the research capacity in the area of MM and AC and its innovation potential were analysed and the results were presented in the First MMAC Open Workshop to gather valuable feedback from the scientific community. A survey was organized: Questionnaire prepared and distributed among the wider scientific community, and results were analysed. Actions and measures for strengthening the research capacity in CoE thematic key areas were proposed. Two deliverables with findings from this WP were prepared and submitted on time.

- Work Package 3: This work package considered the development and exploitation planning of the CoE’s research infrastructure (HPC centre) which also serves as the national supercomputing centre according to the National Roadmap for Research Infrastructure (NRRI). During MMAC’s first Stage, a comprehensive plan for deployment of software and services was developed. The organizational and governance structure of the HPC centre was designed. Based on a study of researcher’s needs and the state of the art in HPC, a plan for sustainable expansion of the hardware equipment (during the second Stage of the MMAC project), balancing the computational, storage and networking capabilities, was designed, incorporating the expertise, experience and suggestions from TU Wien. The results were presented at the Open workshop (12 May 2016) in order to receive feedback from SMEs and the academic community. Three deliverables were submitted to the EC on time.

- Work Package 4: The mid-term and long-term strategy and plan for empowering the research capacity in Mathematical Modelling and Advanced Computing in Bulgaria were developed. An analysis of how well the key expertise and research topics of the CoE match the needs of Bulgarian SMEs and other potential industrial partners was performed. In addition, a survey of the recent top achievements in the area of MM and AC in Bulgaria and analysis of the current research potential and infrastructure of the Bulgarian partners, were carried out. Within this work package a Business Plan for setting up a CoE for MMAC in Science and Engineering was developed. Three deliverables were prepared and submitted on time.

- Work Package 5: The project website has been designed and maintained, The project promotional package (project logo, project presentation, brochure, poster, banner, folders, etc.) has been designed and distributed. The project communication system has been developed.

The project MMAC has been presented at various events including 9 national, regional and international conferences and workshops. Two workshops were organized by the project: Open Workshop “Science for Intelligent Growth” on 4 of December 2015 (52 participants); Open Workshop “Mathematical Modelling and Advanced Computing in Industry and in Society” on 12 of May 2016 (58 participants). Three deliverables were produced and submitted to EC on time.
The planned socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the MMAC project cover several aspects:

Impact on the research excellence
The proposers have a proven record of excellent achievements and high potential to progress significantly beyond the state-of-the-art in the selected four key areas. A dedicated number of new researchers (including postdocs and experienced researchers coming back from abroad) will be employed in the new Centre of Excellence. The MMAC project is expected to stimulate: (i) Integration of the traditionally strong fundamental research and education in the East-European countries with the experience in organizing application- and market-oriented research in West Europe; (ii) Accumulation of a critical mass of young researchers with solid education from Europe, USA, Japan etc., who will bring their own contacts and partners to the networking framework of the CoE MMAC; (iii) Advances in modern technologies for mathematical modeling and advanced computing.

Advanced Research Infrastructure
The new CoE is concerned with the substantial upgrade of the existing e-infrastructure of IICT using national funding. The expected strong and long-term impact of the MMAC project is mostly related to increasing the human potential during the planned continuous development of the HPC Centre.
The planned upgrade of the systems will position Bulgaria as a sustainable HPC leader in South-Eastern Europe. The direct impact of this modern research infrastructure will be measured by new challenging large-scale applications of MM and AC. The system will be aligned with the concepts of ETP4HPC: European Technology Platform for High-Performance Computing – Achieving HPC leadership in Europe. In the context of the MMAC project, the core HPC infrastructure will have an additional cumulative impact taking the recently established Smart Lab at the IICT within the FP7-REGPOT-1 project AComIn into account. The Smart Lab extends the IICT’s abilities to tackle most advanced computational challenges providing, in particular, modern tools for 3D digitalization, visualization and prototyping. The 3D Digitalization Lab will be further developed with new state-of-the-art equipment for industrial computer tomography and 3D scanning.

Building up modern innovation potential
The CoE for MMAC will improve radically the existing scientific environment and will enable doing state-of-the-art research. It will foster the collaboration with Bulgarian SMEs in the priority industrial sectors. In this way, the project will substantially increase the potential to generate innovations.

Innovation Impact to the thematic areas of the Bulgarian Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization (IS3)
The new Centre will bundle the RTD excellence in the field of MM and AC, in science and engineering, providing a hub for interdisciplinary activities and innovations. The expected impact includes development of new approaches based on the most recent achievements in MM and AC. The planned four key areas will significantly contribute to the priorities of all thematic areas of the Bulgarian IS3 with a particular focus on:
• 3D digitalization, visualization and prototyping;
• Big Data, Grid and Cloud technologies;
• Wireless sensor networks and wireless communication/control;
• Language technologies;
• Green economy and clean technologies;
• Personalized medicine, diagnostics and individual therapy, therapeutic and medicinal forms and tools;
• Nano-technologies in medicine.

The expected innovation impact is strongly supported by the Bulgarian governmental and municipal authorities, leading industrial clusters and branch chambers, leading high tech companies and SMEs. Their representatives actively participated in the open forums and related discussions organized during the reported Stage 1 of the MMAC project.