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Upgrade of CaSToRC into a Center of Excellence in Simulation and Data Science

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SIMDAS (Upgrade of CaSToRC into a Center of Excellence in Simulation and Data Science)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

The SIMDAS project goal is to upgrade the Computation-based Science and Technology Research Center (CaSToRC) of The Cyprus Institute (CyI) into a Centre of Excellence in Simulation and Data Science (referred to as CaSToR-CoE) in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean (EM) region. The advanced Teaming partner, with a long tradition in academic and innovation excellence, is one of the largest computing centers in Europe, the Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), which will help to create and sustain the proposed CaSToR-CoE. Local partners are three public institutions, the Departments of Antiquities (DoA), the Departments of Meteorology (DoM), and the Nicosia General Hospital (NGH), as well as two SMEs, Hyperion Systems Engineering (HSE), and SignalGeneriX (SGX).

The core concept of the SIMDAS project is based on the development of simulation and data methodologies, tools and services that address challenges and opportunities in compute- and data-intensive applications in a synergetic approach across disciplines under a cross-sectional CaSToR-CoE. This ‘transdisciplinary convergence’ principle is propelling development of similar initiatives globally. The CaSToR-CoE of the SIMDAS project will be driven by applications from five disciplines, three governmental departments and two SMEs ensuring a healthy mixture of challenging problems helping the upgraded center to build sustainable interdisciplinary expertise but also to focus on timely topics in the various disciplines and issues of societal relevance. The key novelty of the SIMDAS project lies in i) combining the challenges in exascale computing and data-intensive problems (or ‘big data’) under one roof and, ii) focusing on research domains of importance to Cyprus, as identified as part of the S3Cy, and the EM region, exploiting the synergies among them.

Creating a leading computing and data environment with associated technical expertise where multiple disciplines merge to develop new approaches, as envisioned by the SIMDAS project, will enable entire research and industrial communities to address challenging problems, enriching collaborations and ensuring sustainability. Thus, research and technology developed at the CaSToR-CoE will result in tangible benefits to society, the environment and the economy.

The overall objective and outcome of the one-year Phase-1 project was to prepare a robust and comprehensive Business Plan (BP) for SIMDAS, which will serve as a strategic guide for various research and innovation activities. The BP, thus, established the vision and orientation of CaSToRC in order to transform itself into a CoE in Simulation and Data Science (CaSToR-CoE).
The project was dived into 4 Work Packages (WP):

WP1 A Project Management Office (PMO) was set up at CyI comprising the Project Coordinator (PC) (chair), the scientific FZJ Teaming coordinator (TC) and the CyI scientific coordinator (SC). The PMO was responsible for the daily management of the project including budgetary issues, for the coordination and monitoring of the other WPs and for the writing of the business plan. A Project Steering Committee (PSC) was set up comprising of one representative from all partners. The PSC was the decision-making body of the project and the PMO was be responsible of keeping all members informed on the in-put and status of the business plan.

Results: The main results of this WP were the two deliverables: 1) Project roadmap and 2) Business Plan.

WP2 Raised awareness of the activities of the project and the long-term benefits of SIMDAS to the local stakeholders and local regional user communities. Created outreach material for promoting the center, including logos, presentation templates, brochures and posters, and maintained the website of the project. Mobilized the local partners to promote the center to government and industry and make it known to the general public. Engaged with stakeholders on community events. Represented an active channel of communication in social media and performed outreach activities. Engaged researchers, policy-makers, governmental agencies and SMEs in an open dialogue to collect feedback for the business plan and to explore collaborations via relevant community events.

Results: The main results of this WP were the two deliverables: 1) Dissemination Plan and 2) Final report on dissemination outcomes.

WP3 Defined the research, tools and services and the needs of the user communities to deliver a detailed roadmap for the realization of the research and innovation activities of Phase-2.

Results: The main results of this WP were the four deliverables: 1) Report on the survey outcomes; 2) Research activities planning report; 3) Center education and training planning report; 4) Peer review strategy.

WP4 Delivered the infrastructure planning of the upgraded computational center taking into account the needs of the user communities in Cyprus in the EM region and defined the organizational structure of the upgraded center including the services offered to government, industry and the user communities.

Results: The main results of this WP were the four deliverables: 1) Infrastructure plan; 2) Financial feasibility report; 3) Organization and governance structure and operational policies; 4) Industry relations and innovation.
The business plan lays down the strategy for developing and expanding the research agenda of the CoE in areas where simulation and data science and the transdisciplinary approach can bring breakthroughs of societal importance as identified in the S3Cy and for which local expertise exists. These areas are Health and Life Sciences, Computational Engineering and Computational Finance and Economics (CFE). CFE was identified in Phase-1 as a missing importance area for Cyprus and a team of leading economists has been identified who will be CoE affiliates to utilize the high-level support team personnel and infrastructure of the CoE to advance it.

The business model of CaSToR-CoE is based on the rapidly growing demand for computational and data science expertise and infrastructure from academia, government and the private sector. Through the market/competitor analysis, the prospects to collaborate with a number of businesses in co-development projects was identified, most notably in the banking and financial sectors, the insurance sector, telecommunications, ICT and R&D companies. A number of stakeholders already expressed intent to collaborate with the CoE on common projects also committing financial resources or to purchase resources and provided a Letter of Commitment to engage with the CoE. As a result, the innovation and entrepreneurship culture of the CaSToRC personnel was improved, helping to bridge the gap between research and innovation, and enabling the development of SME’s, products, and services.

The proposed CaSToR-CoE through an industry-driven innovation hub (IH) it will run an industrial program that will offer dedicated resources and services to the private and governmental sectors. The SIMDAS project presents a unique opportunity for CaSToRC to introduce the necessary structural changes and to build the capacity in personnel and infrastructure in order to enable scientists in Cyprus and the the EM to excel in simulation and data science and its applications. The IH was designed with the input of all stakeholders and it is designed to help boost the Research, Technology Development and Innovation activities of the Center.
SIMDAS Brochure back page
SIMDAS Brochure front page