UK plans exascale supercomputer in science and technology boost

UK plans exascale supercomputer in science and technology boost

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK government has announced additional funding of £250m to boost research into artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and engineering biology, and also says it has plans to fund an exascale supercomputer.

The initial £250m package of projects in the new Science and Technology Framework is part of a commitment to the five technologies within the science and technology framework, which also includes semiconductors and future telecoms says the newly formed Department of Science and Technology

This follows publication of Sir Paul Nurse’s Independent Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape with recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organisations, ensuring they are effective, sustainable and responsive to global challenges.

The framework will test different models of funding science, to support a range of innovative institutional models, such as Focused Research Organisations (known as FROs), working with industry and philanthropic partners to open up new funding for UK research.

There is a £10 million increase in the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund, totalling £50 million, to boost the UK’s next tech and science start-ups, and £9 million to support the establishment of a quantum computing research centre by PsiQuantum in Daresbury in the North-West

The plans to set up an Exascale supercomputer facility however appear to be unfunded as well as a programme to provide dedicated compute capacity for important AI research, as part of the response to the Future of Compute Review.

The UK has several supercomputer centres, including Edinburgh with the Archer system, but many countries are well ahead in the development of exascale AI systems.

PsiQuantum opens first UK research lab

Up to £50 million will be used for co-investment in science from the private sector and philanthropists to drive the discoveries of the future, subject to business cases. The government is already talking to Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, about additional support of up to $20 million as part of this work

£117 million of existing funding to create hundreds of new PhDs for AI researchers and £8 million to find the next generation of AI leaders around the world to do their research in the UK

A £50 million uplift to World Class Labs funding to help research institutes and universities to improve facilities so UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class science after years of underfunding.

The plan will be a cross-government endeavour led by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to bring together responsibility for the UK’s world class research and innovation system with the five key technologies of tomorrow into one single department for the first time.

The government is also extending its financial guarantee provided to the UK’s Horizon Europe applicants to the end of June 2023 so that eligible, successful bids for calls closing on or before this date continue to be guaranteed funding, supporting them to continue their important work in research and innovation.

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