UK to spend £145m on computing infrastructure

The money will be invested in projects to improve high-performance computing, data storage and wide-bandwidth networks, and to support businesses that are heavy users of such technology

The UK government has earmarked £145m for improvements on the country's e-infrastructure and high-performance computing, in the hope the technologies will spur business growth.

David Willetts

Science minister David Willetts has announced a £145m fund for improvements to the UK's e-infrastructure. Photo credit: BIS

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the funding on Monday, saying it will go toward software development, wide-bandwidth networks, data storage, high-performance computing (HPC), cybersecurity, and people and skills.

"Significantly improving computing infrastructure is vital to driving growth and giving businesses the confidence to invest in the UK," science minister David Willetts said, quoted in a BIS statement. "It has the potential to significantly improve the design and manufacturing process, encouraging innovation across a whole range of sectors."

In particular, the fund will support technologies used by industries that depend heavily on computing, such as manufacturing, engineering and design, BIS said.

"There are elements of the e-infrastructure that no private-sector company will invest in, as they do not require sole use of these assets," a BIS spokeswoman told ZDNet UK.

The money has come from savings from a number of government departments and is a new investment that was not outlined in last year's Comprehensive Spending Review, according to BIS.

'Flesh out the bones'

However, the government has not yet decided exactly how the money will be spent or allocated, a BIS spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. "The next part is to flesh out the bones in the business case," she said. The investment is subject to the approval of the business case by the Research Councils.

While it has not identified specific projects or a process for funding, it looks likely that some investment will go to research by universities.

"The investment will also be of enormous benefit to our world-class research base. It will enable universities to carry out highly sophisticated research and archive more data, keeping us at the very leading edge of science," Willetts said.

In separate announcements on Monday, the government allocated £50m for graphene research, while the UK's mobile telecoms infrastructure was given £150m for new masts.

The government will co-ordinate the development of the e-infrastructure, according to BIS. The choice of areas for investment was influenced by Dominic Tildesley from Unilever, who has been working on identifying the priorities in such areas. Intel and IBM, who also advise the government on technology matters, welcomed the £145m fund.

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