MidPlus: A Centre of Excellence for Computational Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Centre for Scientific Computing


We propose to establish a Centre of Excellence for Computational Science, Engineering and Mathematics (MidPlus) that serves the M1/M6 corridor from London to the Midlands, initially based on four leading universities with outstanding credentials for cross-institutional collaboration, industrial partnership, and computational research: Warwick, Birmingham, Nottingham and Queen Mary. We focus on this region because geographical proximity greatly facilitates outreach and ongoing interactions with industrial partners-especially for SMEs. MidPlus is well located to serve many organisations within the UK's automotive, aerospace, biomedical, materials and creative industries. We will extend this partnership to such companies, and other Universities, as MidPlus develops.

This Centre of Excellence will be established with an initial investment in e-Infrastructure of £3M (£1.6M from this EPSRC call and £1.4M from the partner Universities) that will provide:
* High performance Computing (HPC) through a capability cluster (Warwick; 2700 cores, infiniBand, some GPU and large-memory SMP nodes) to be combined with Warwick's existing cluster (commissioned 05/2011) to create a 6000 core cluster and so maximise scope for large massively parallel jobs; and a high throughput cluster (QMUL, 2900 cores) to facilitate projects that require multiple runs to span large parameter spaces.
* Data storage and archive facilities (mirrored at Birmingham and Nottingham for data integrity) to enable mid- and long-term storage of research data (initially ~1 PB capacity), and the management structures to enable metadata-based search and retrieval with secure implementation of a range of user-specified levels of privacy.

In the longer term we will: extend the capacity of the data store; develop an automated data-aging protocol to migrate data, successively, to appropriate longer-term storage technologies; extend the range of tier-2 HPC architecture we support; and develop greater integration of, and faster regional network connections between, the data and compute hardware.

Our collective research expertise and mastery of managing and using e-Infrastructure is as crucial to the success of MidPlus as is the equipment we will install. We will therefore build an intellectual superstructure on top of the e-Infrastructure that will:
* actively promote collaborations that cross disciplinary and institutional boundaries;
* provide a coordinated systems and administrative support team to enable industries with existing expertise to use these facilities-either to deal with the peaks in their internal demand for computer facilities or as an alternative to establishing their own;
* provide an expertise-base to nurture new industrial use of this e-Infrastructure;
* create a strategic framework within which to sustain and develop the regional e-Infrastructure.

This intellectual superstructure will enable MidPlus to offer services that add much more value than could be obtained from the bare e-Infrastructure or, indeed, from industrial cloud computing services.

Planned Impact

The impact of the MidPlus project could be truly far-reaching, especially for small to medium sized enterprises within the our region. In MidPlus, we are proposing to establish a high-quality tier-2 e-infrastructure, with both high performance computing (HPC) and data facilities, that will serve all enterprises within the MidPlus region; this region is based around the M1/M6 corridor from London to the Midlands, and contains commercial strength in the UK's automotive, aerospace, biomedical, materials and creative industries. Most importantly, we plan to enhance the value of the facility-provision considerably by building a powerful consultancy and training framework around the strategic collaboration that is at the heart of MidPlus. This will enable commercial and industrial enterprises to recognise how they can benefit from state-of-the-art e-Infrastructure, and then develop the consultancies and internal skill-sets to reap maximum commercial advantage from using it.

To ensure we deliver full impact in the region, we will undertake a number of activities to ensure effective engagement with stakeholders in the region. These will include workshops, designed either to communicate our research expertise across disciplinary and cultural boundaries, or to brainstorm on current problems that are challenging some of the enterprises. We will also appoint business engagement officers to identify, and then nurture potential partnerships with SMEs and established industries. Activity in this area will be considerably enhanced by developing commercial partnerships with value-added companies such as OCF plc, where this is appropriate.
We will also work closely with a number of successful industry-linkage programmes our Universities are already involved in, notably the Warwick Manufacturing Group, the Horizon Digital Economy research hub and ImpactQM. These will be excellent vehicles for raising awareness of MidPlus as a precursor to identifying and evaluating benefits and then moving to engagement.


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Description This grant was to establish a regional high-end e-Infrastructure centre (MidPlus), serving the Universities of Birmingham, Warwick, Nottingham and QMUL, and looking to develop links with other Universities and industry in the London/Midlands region. We have established a range of facilities, including High Performance and High Throughput Clusters and a (mirrored) PB data store that has now been fully used and servicing this community for three years.
Exploitation Route This grant provided a service, and this service is being used by many researchers in Universities and industry to tackle their specific R&D problems.
Sectors Aerospace

Defence and Marine


Food and Drink



Creative Economy

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)







including Industrial Biotechology

Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://www.midplus.ac.uk