Scottish lead role in development of e-Science

Published: 27 July 2001

The Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have been awarded ?5.5M to establish the National e-Science Centre to lead the development of e-Science for the whole of the UK.

The Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh have been awarded £5.5M to establish the National e-Science Centre to lead the development of e-Science for the whole of the UK.

The National e-Science Centre will co-ordinate and support the work of eight Regional e-Science Centres around the UK and will include an e-Science Institute based in Edinburgh to host workshops and visiting scientists.

Professor Malcolm Atkinson, Director of the National e-Science Centre, said: "e-Science will change our ways of working. We'll solve hard problems faster. We'll focus the efforts of scientific communities, drawing on shared data and massive computing power to face urgent challenges. We're taking the first steps in building the Grid which will make e-Science available to everyone. While the World Wide Web allows us to share data, e-Science allows research teams to collaborate to turn data into information and hence knowledge."

Professor Richard Kenway, Chairman of the e-Science Centre, said: "Edinburgh pioneered the use of parallel computing. The national e-Science Centre places us at the forefront of the new revolution in computing, transforming academic research and creating new business opportunities."

The Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Graeme Davies, said: "This very welcome news recognises the international strength and complementarity of the two universities in this vital field. e-Science is going to change the way society works, at every level. The creation of the Centre will enable our scientists to collaborate in providing the leadership to develop the application of e-Science on many fronts, in research, industry, communications and ordinary life."

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: "This national investment, establishing the UK's National e-Science Centre here in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, recognises that Scotland already has the concentration of top-level computational scientists with the vision, skills and expertise to lead the UK in keeping Europe at the cutting edge of international communications technology."

Further information

1. The award has been made by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council/Department of Trade & Industry.

2. By sharing not just information but also the computational process, large geographically dispersed communities of specialists - working with very large collections of data, 'turbocharged' versions of the Internet and computers - will be able to focus on complex problems in science, engineering, medicine and the environment. E-Science will require a much more powerful infrastructure and new software technologies, called the Grid, to support it.

3. Underpinning the Grid is the idea of virtual organisations created to tackle specific projects, sharing computing resources and information. Projects range from solving an environmental issue to the development of new medical techniques. The challenge is to create the technology, working practices and organisational thinking which will allow members of virtual organisations to have ready, secure and seamless access to all shared resources.

4. To make these advances and to ensure the UK maintains a leading role in Grid development, the National e-Science Centre, working with the Regional e-Science Centres, will:

* Supervise the setting up of a 'National Grid' of computing/data resources and facilities as well as launching and managing a £3M programme of 'industrial projects' with an additional £3M contribution from industry.

* Establish an 'e-Science Institute' which will run a seminar programme focusing on international multidisciplinary research.

* Manage a 'Network of Excellence' in Grid Technologies and coordinate UK representation at Global Grid Forum Meetings.

* Develop communication, awareness and training activities with other Grid Centres and e-Science 'Testbeds'.

5. Although the Grid is being created to support the most challenging computations needed for science and engineering, it is expected that its model of managed resource-sharing will be just as applicable in business or the home, in the same way that the World Wide Web evolved from specialist applications to universal public use.

6. More than 30 major international corporations and UK and Scottish companies have already expressed their interest in the National e-Science Centre. Further announcements concerning the involvement of major organisations will be made shortly.

7. The establishment of the National e-Science Centre in Scotland follows the creation of an alliance by the Principals of the two universities with the goal of developing e-Science together. Their success in attracting the National e-Science Centre to Scotland is the first step in stimulating the rapid growth of e-Science in Scottish higher education and industry. It will also provide a model virtual organisation to put the theories of e-Science into practice.

8. The work of the National e-Science Centre and the e-Science Institute will initially involve over 25 senior staff in both universities, including new appointments. This scale provides a critical mass and a platform for growth.

9. The National e-Science Centre and the Institute will be based in a recently renovated building in central Edinburgh, with supporting offices in Glasgow and elsewhere in Edinburgh.

10. The Fifth Global Grid Forum and the eleventh IEEE symposium on High-Performance Distributed Computing, expected to attract 500 attendees, will be hosted in Edinburgh in Summer 2002 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Further information for media at

Media Relations Office (

For further information contact: Mike Brown, University of Glasgow Press Office: 0141 330 3225


For arrangements contact Ronnie Kerr, UoE : 0131-650 9547/2248 or 07779 723 291 Fiona Selkirk, University of Edinburgh Press Office - 07771-956 549

First published: 27 July 2001

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