Landmark agreement between research and industry to harness high performance computing

27 November 2017

Kirk Jordan, Alison Kennedy and Jon Hague

From left to right : Kirk Jordan, IBM Research, Alison Kennedy, STFC Hartree Centre, and Jon Hague, Unilever.
(Credit: STFC/Hartree Centre)

High performance computing will power a new era in industrial product development in the UK, thanks to a landmark research agreement.

The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), IBM Research and Unilever will work together under a three-way Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to develop new computer software and advanced modelling capabilities that will transform the competitiveness of UK industry.

UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “The agreement between STFC, IBM and Unilever highlights the benefits that can be gained by researchers and businesses working together to commercialise research, improving the competitiveness of UK companies and the development of better products for consumers.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy, and additional investment of £2.3bn for R&D in 2021/22, demonstrates the crucial role of science, research and innovation in the future prosperity of the UK economy and our desire to ensure the UK remains the go-to destination for innovation.”

Tim Bestwick, Executive Director for Business Innovation at STFC, said: “The Hartree Centre was established to enable experts in research, using the latest and very best high performance computing systems, to work alongside leading industry teams. This ground-breaking agreement is just one such collaboration between Unilever, IBM and STFC, and we are delighted to be part of it."

The Hartree Centre Collaboration with strategic partner, IBM, based in Daresbury, was first formed in 2012 and has since received £170million of funding from the UK Government. It is home to some of the most technically advanced high performance computing, data analytics, machine learning technologies and experts in the UK and is used for accelerating research and development in industry. Through the global IBM Research network, the Hartree Centre can access and leverage IBM scientists across the world and provide the right skills and expertise to meet the applied industrial challenges.

IBM Research has established a presence of more than two dozen scientists at Daresbury, who work closely with their 3,000 colleagues across IBM’s 12 global research labs.

“We are excited to be working with Unilever and Hartree on this strategic collaboration,” said Mike Rosenfield, vice-president Data Centric Solutions IBM Research. “In the Cognitive Era, computing is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and data centric, requiring clients to efficiently process large volumes of data. Through this project we will drive the convergence of modeling, simulation, analytics, Big Data, and machine learning on accelerated systems to provide faster results."

The first joint project is to create a powerful computer simulation capable of predicting how liquids will mix together, which will enable Unilever to develop better products, faster.

Mixing liquids is a crucial step in the manufacturing process of formulated consumer products. The ‘virtual mixer’ approach to product design is especially important for Unilever. In order to develop fully sustainable consumer products, they are embracing a new – digital - way of working.

Press office contacts

Science and Technology Facilities Council: Becky Parker-Ellis, Media officer

IBM Research: Christopher Sciacca, Comms Manager
Phone: +41 44 724 8443

Unilever: Caroline Boin, Unilever Media Relations

Notes to editors

The Hartree Centre is transforming UK industry by accelerating the adoption of high performance computing, big data analytics and cognitive technologies.

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

Twitter: @hartreecentre

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000