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EPCC, The Data Lab and a Scottish data science ecosystem

Guest blog post by George Graham, Business Development Manager, EPCC

After a relatively short start-up period, The Data Lab is already well placed to benefit Scottish business by driving the creation of a local data science ecosystem. Here at EPCC we are looking forward to working with The Data Lab in pursuing this exciting strategy.

Building a Scottish data ecosystem will require resources and funding to kick start projects, along with specialist skills and training. Finding new ways for industry, the public sector and universities to work together will be instrumental in exploiting forthcoming data science initiatives. EPCC will give valuable support to The Data Lab’s activities through our particular mix of high performance computing (HPC) expertise and facilities, and our experience of using them to solve real-world problems.

What is EPCC?

We are Europe’s premier supercomputing centre. Based at The University of Edinburgh since its inception in 1990, EPCC has gained an enviable reputation for leading-edge capability in all aspects of HPC, Big Data and novel computing. Our facilities and expertise are unmatched in Europe and, with some 80 highly qualified permanent staff, we also have an exceptional pool of talent. During the last 25 years we have used our resources to help over 700 industrial organisations benefit from HPC and Big Data.

HPC has changed the face of science and engineering, and by using parallel processing to deliver unprecedented computing speeds, it has pioneered new ways of problem-solving, prediction and data analysis. The applications of HPC are broad ranging. Simulation and modelling can be used to improve the aerodynamics of wing structures, or to help design more efficient and quieter combustion engines. Simulated crash tests reduce the need for testing with physical prototypes. Molecular modelling speeds up the design of new drugs. Complex environmental models aid weather forecasting and provide early warning of natural disasters. And in the financial industry, large-scale computational methods carry out complex mathematical calculations in areas such as pricing and pre-trade risk analysis.

Increasingly HPC is combined with new data analytics techniques to address large-scale Big Data challenges. High performance data analytics (HPDA) can be a key tool in creating value from data – building new structures and relationships, discovering deeper and more valuable insights, and generating important correlations, patterns and relationships.

New horizons open up when HPC is combined with new analytics methods and tools such as MapReduce/Hadoop, graph analytics, machine learning and semantic analysis. Examples can be found in fields such as cryptography, optimising portfolios in financial services, and developing personalised medicines in healthcare programmes by combining analysis of mass patient records with computational methods in genomics and next-generation sequencing.

So a collaborative partnership between the Data Lab and EPCC has tremendous potential. And if you add in EPCC’s current partner network, we have a very compelling proposition indeed:

  • We are an NVIDIA GPU Research Centre undertaking pioneering work in GPU computing.
  • We collaborate with Cray through the EXASCALE TECHNOLOGY Centre to explore new ideas and technologies to meet the challenge of delivering Exaflop performance within the next decade.
  • As an Intel Parallel Computing Centre (IPCC), we work to optimise a range of large-scale simulation codes for Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors.
  • Through our leadership of several major European Commission Framework 7 projects (such as Fortissimo), and collaborations at a local level with Scottish Enterprise, we are accelerating the adoption of HPC and high-performance data analytics by European SME’s across a range of industrial sectors.

With world-leading innovation centres such as the Data Lab, local universities, and entrepreneurial digital start-ups across a range of industrial sectors, I can’t think of a more exciting time to be involved in Scotland’s flourishing technology sector.

George Graham, Business Development Manager, EPCC

George Graham is EPCC’s Commercial Manager. Prior to joining EPCC he held technical and sales roles for a number of industrial companies in the technology sector. George is now responsible for EPCC’s sales strategy and driving forward commercial development. His major activities include creating and sustaining key strategic industrial partnerships, coordinating proposal development, managing and controlling commercial contracts, resource planning and forecasting. George holds a First-class honours degree in Computer Science, an MBA, and is a Chartered Information Technology Professional.

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