Hartree Centre contributes essential computing resource to new UK National Biofilms Innovation Centre

Hartree Centre contributes essential computing resource to new UK National Biofilms Innovation Centre

28th November 2017 - The UK’s world-leading expertise in the research of biofilms has been recognised this week with the launch of a new National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) which will have high performance computing support from STFC’s Hartree Centre.

Biofilms are a community of one or more types of micro-organisms that can grow on many different surfaces, such as plaque on teeth. Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria and fungi and because biofilms are everywhere they present a range of different challenges and opportunities to a diversity of industries from agriculture to healthcare. This new centre will advance biofilm science and innovation by bringing together those at the cutting edge of research with innovators in business to better understand how to manage, detect and engineer biofilms and to enable greater exploitation of the science and commercial opportunities they represent.

NBIC is a major, £12.5million five-year investment which forms a key part of The UK Biofilms Programme which is led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK. The investment is also supported further through an in-kind contribution of up to £1million worth of access to the high performance computing facilities from STFC’s Hartree Centre.

Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “By better understanding biofilms and how we can manage and engineer them, we can influence ongoing scientific discoveries in medical diagnosis and treatment and improve environmental protection.

“This new centre is an excellent collaboration between Research Councils, Innovate UK and universities, and with our commitment to invest an additional £2.3bn for R&D in 2021/22, we are ensuring that our world leading researchers get the support they need and continue to thrive through our Industrial Strategy.”   

Dr Martyn Winn, a computational scientist at STFC said “STFC, through the Hartree Centre, is supporting NBIC through an in-kind contribution of up to £1million, providing access to Hartree’s state-of-the-art computer systems. The formation of biofilms is of concern in a wide range of UK industries, from contamination of the food chain through to fouling of marine shipping. The Hartree Centre will work with NBIC to support advanced modelling and simulation to gain both a better understanding of biofilms and how to mitigate against their formation.”

NBIC is a multi-site Innovation and Knowledge Centre, led by the University of Southampton together with a core partnership of the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham.

A further 11 universities, three research centres – the UK’s Diamond Light Source synchrotron, the STFC Hartree Centre and the Quadram Institute – and three major global academic partners –  The  Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Montana State University  (USA) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark).

NBIC will also collaborate with a network of over 50 companies from different sectors ranging from SMEs to large companies to exploit the UK’s global leadership in biofilms. NBIC’s inclusive model means that other universities and companies conducting biofilm research can participate and benefit from partnership with the NBIC consortium.

“This new National Biofilms Innovation Centre is poised to create a fusion of world-class interdisciplinary research and industry partnerships to deliver breakthrough science and technologies to control and exploit biofilms,” said Professor Jeremy Webb from the University of Southampton, Principal Investigator and Co-Director for NBIC . “The UK is home to some of the most advanced research and commercial opportunities for the exploitation of biofilms so combining our talents gives us the best opportunity to establish a national, and international, agenda to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges and work seamlessly across academic and industry to stimulate growth in this vital area.”

Microbial biofilm research is now a feature of many scientific disciplines including biological sciences, medicine, chemistry, physics, computational modelling, engineering and ocean science. Biofilms are central to some of the most urgent global challenges across diverse fields of application, from medicine to industry to the environment and exert considerable economic and social impact: 

  • They are a leading cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), forecast to cost $100trillion in world GDP and 10 million deaths by 2050;
  • They are the major cause of chronic infections, costing the NHS £2billion per annum; 
  • Contamination, energy losses and damage by biofilms impact on the £70billion UK foods industry, the $2.8trillion consumer products sector, and $117billion global coatings industry.
  • Biofilm management is essential to deliver clean and globally sustainable drinking water and food security.

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Media contact:
Jake Gilmore
STFC Media Manager
Jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

Details of the BBSRC and Innovate UK-funded Innovation and Knowledge Centre can be found at: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/filter/biofilms-programme/

Details of the UK Biofilms programme can be seen here http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/filter/biofilms-programme/

List of partners – all universities and companies to date

Core-lead Universities Co-ordinating contact
University Southampton Prof Jeremy Webb, Principal Investigator, Co-Director
University of Edinburgh Prof. Cait McPhee, Co-Director
University of Liverpool Prof Rasmita Raval, Co-Director
University of Nottingham Prof Miguel Cámara, Co-Director

NBIC partners to date

University of Birmingham Dr Jan Kreft
University of Cambridge Dr Martin Welch, Dr Andrew Grant
Diamond Light Source Dr Martin Walsh
University of Dundee Prof. Nicola Stanley-Wall
Hartree Centre Alison Kennedy
Imperial College London Prof Alain Filloux
University of Leeds Prof Chris Carr
University of Manchester Prof Andrew McBain
Plymouth Marine Laboratory Dr Thomas Vance
University of Portsmouth Dr Maria Salta
Quadram Institute Prof Ian Charles
Queen's University Belfast Prof Brendan Gilmore
Swansea University Prof Tom Humphrey, Dr Tom Wilkinson
University of West England Prof. Darren Reynolds

Biofilms are a community of one or more types of microorganisms that can grow on many different surfaces, such as plaque on teeth. Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria and fungi and because biofilms are everywhere they present a range of different challenges and opportunities to a diversity of industries from agriculture to healthcare.

The Hartree Centre’s mission is to transform UK industry by accelerating the adoption of high performance computing, big data analytics and cognitive technologies.

We want UK industry to fully embrace and integrate the latest digital and cognitive technologies into their businesses, to outperform global competitors, grow the economy and maintain the UK's position at the forefront of industrial innovation.

Set up in 2013 and underpinned by over £170M of funding from the UK Government, we are part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and are located at Sci-Tech Daresbury in Cheshire.

Website: www.hartree.stfc.ac.uk

Twitter: @hartreecentre

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000