Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Got an idea for dealing with COVID-19? A Taiwanese supercomputer could help

The National Center for High-Performance Computing will make its supercomputer available to researchers for six months.

Projects that combat against the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply to have Taiwan's AI cloud computing platform, Taiwan Computing Cloud (TWCC), be a part of their efforts.

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Owned by the National Center for High-Performance Computing (NCHC), TWCC is built on top of Taiwania 2. 

Taiwania 2 delivers nine petaflops of performance and was ranked 21st on the top 500 list of supercomputers in November 2019.

Successful applicants would gain six months of free access to TWCC, as well as cloud storage and a data collection platform.

The potential topics for projects are not limited to medical research and disease prevention, NCHC said. 

The projects could be focused on revitalising the economy, helping businesses and schools operate, or simply solving inconveniences in everyday life. For example, projects that build a map of places with alcohol sanitiser or an online education platform would be eligible applicants, the NCHC explained.

Projects from enterprises or institutions funded by mainland China, however, will be ineligible to apply, according to submission guidelines.

The deadline for submissions is June 30. 

Taiwan Minister of Science and Technology, Chen Liang-Gee, said in a statement to the media that technology investment would play an important role in the global battle against the virus. Due to this, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been actively integrating technology to support epidemic prevention and gathering the wisdom of everyone to invest in the battle, he added.

On the industry front, tech firms like IBM and Alibaba have already offered up their supercomputing power or artificial intelligence tools to help researchers and medical practitioners better understand and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

D-Wave has also announced that its quantum computer has been made available to researchers via its cloud service Leap for any COVID-19 efforts.

Although Taiwan has not issued a formal lockdown, the Central Epidemic Command Center rolled out several new social distancing measures on April 1. 

As of April 5, there have been 363 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the island with five deaths.