Council backs plans for investment in world-class European supercomputers

EU currently consumes over 33% of supercomputing resources worldwide, but supplies only 5% of them

Andrus Ansip, European Commission’s Vice President for the Digital Single Market.

Today, the Council of Ministers officially backed the Commission's plans to invest jointly with the Member States in building a world-class European supercomputing infrastructure since supercomputers are needed to process ever larger amounts of data, bringing benefits to society in many areas, from health care and renewable energy to car safety and cybersecurity.

"Data is the raw material of our digital economy. We need supercomputers to process it, develop artificial intelligence and find solutions to complex questions in areas like health and security. Today, most of our researchers and companies need to go outside of Europe to find the first-class computers they need. The EU cannot afford to lag behind. With EuroHPC, we will be able to benefit from innovation at home," Andrus Ansip, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said.

 “The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will stimulate the development in Europe of a competitive supercomputing and data supply chain via public procurement. Through its competence centres, it will further empower European academia, industry, small and medium-sized enterprises and public services, and provide them with access to a wide range of resources, services and tools to improve their digital skills and innovate,” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, added. 

According to EC statement, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking will be established in November 2018 and remain operational until the end of 2026. To date, the following European countries have committed to joining the initative: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

The Joint Undertaking will have a budget of €1bn, half from the EU budget and half from participating European Member States. In the longer term, the Commission proposed to invest €2.7bn to strengthen supercomputing and data processing in Europe as part of the Digital Europe Programme for 2021-2027 tabled in May 2018. Additional resources to the value of over €400m will come from private partners and activities will be focused on two areas - a pan-European supercomputing infrastructure that would allow the purchase and deployment of two supercomputers in the EU, which will be interconnected with existing national supercomputers and also support of the development of a European supercomputing ecosystem, stimulating a technology supply industry, and making supercomputing resources in many application areas available to a large number of public and private users. 

The cooperation is crucial for the EU's competitiveness and independence in the data economy, as industry in the EU currently consumes over 33% of supercomputing resources worldwide, but supplies only 5% of them.

 As the EU Commission notes, European citizens are already benefiting from many supercomputing applications in their everyday lives. For example, the development of new medical therapies relies heavily on supercomputing simulations to understand the nature of cancer, heart diseases, Alzheimer's and rare genetic disorders. In cybersecurity and defence, supercomputers are used for developing efficient encryption technologies, and in combination with artificial intelligence for understanding and responding to cyberattacks. They are also used to study climate change and for weather prediction. For industries and businesses, supercomputers can significantly reduce product design and production cycles, accelerating the design of new materials, minimising costs and increasing resource efficiency. For example, car production cycles can be reduced from 60 months to 24 months while improving passenger safety and comfort.

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