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Four UK e-Science Centres have been awarded grants totalling just under £4m to continue developing new e-Science technologies and promote their adoption in academia and industry over the next five years. The centres are:

  • National e-Science Centre (NeSC, based at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow);
  • the Belfast e-Science Centre (BeSC, based at Queen’s University Belfast);
  • the South-East Regional e-Research Consortium (SEReRC, based at Oxford, Reading and Southampton universities);
  • the White Rose Grid e-Science Centre (based at the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York).

The grants have been awarded by the UK e-Science Core Programme which is funded and managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The funding will enable the centres to provide core staff and services to run e-Science research projects and to participate in separately-funded projects that make use of or develop e-Science tools.

Each centre has already enjoyed considerable success in providing grid and e-Science infrastructure and resources locally and engaging the local research community in projects across a wide range of subject areas to achieve new, better or different research results. Here are a few highlights:

NeSC A framework for clinical trials, developed under the VOTES project which was funded by the Medical Research Council, is being used in major studies throughout Europe. The framework provides secure access to sensitive medical data.

nanoCMOS, funded by the EPSRC, has developed a grid infrastructure to allow designers of electronic circuits to work with increasingly small-scale (nano-scale) transistor devices, the behaviour of which is highly variable, governed by individual atoms rather than the average behaviour of large collections of atoms. More than 250,000 jobs (equivalent to more than 25cpu years) have now been completed. Future projects are planned which build on these and other successes.

BeSC Applications focus on broadcast and digital media, financial services and bioinformatics.

The PRISM project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, is demonstrating how grid computing can make content from a variety of digital sources, including broadcast and web-based media, available to viewers on-demand from their TV sets.

BeSC is enabling companies in financial services to make better use of their own computing infrastructures while fulfilling their legal requirements especially for data security.

SEReRC, a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, has engaged the spare computing power of more than 300,000 home computers to run models of future climate.

The OptiPuter initiative enables researchers in the UK and US, who have independently developed two of the worlds most advanced electron microscopes, to control the other’s instrument from their home institution and so share resources across the Atlantic.

Virtual globes, such as Google Earth, are being used to visualise environmental data.

Electronic lab notebooks have been used to automate high throughput chemistry and biology experiments from experimental set-up to the publication of results.

White Rose Grid e-Science Centre The DAME and BROADEN projects have developed a grid infrastructure to enable Rolls Royce to automate the analysis of signal data from aeroengines and hence improve its service to its customers.

The Virtual Vellum project has enabled scholars in remote locations to view images of rare medieval manuscripts in real time and hence forge new ways of collaborating.

Grid middleware, developed with Beihang University in China, is being used to foster UK-China research collaborations, especially involving industry and in the social sciences.

Longer articles on some of the projects mentioned here can be found at and on the centres’ websites.

For further information contact

Notes for editors

  1. e-Science enables better, new research by giving researchers access to resources held on widely-dispersed computers as though they were on their own desktops. The resources can include many digital data collections, very large scale computing resources, scientific instruments and high performance visualisation.
  2. A grid allows these different resources to work together seamlessly across networks, enabling people to share them, often across traditional boundaries, and form virtual organizations. The vision is to facilitate collaborative working in multi-disciplinary teams by providing easy access to a grid via web interfaces, and powerful tools to organise computing tasks. e-Science has the potential to smooth out inequalities in research investment by making resources available to those who could not afford their own.
  3. The UK e-Science Programme is a coordinated initiative involving all the Research Councils. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funds the e-Science Core Programme which supports the generic facilities that users and potential users of e-Science tools and techniques need to further their research.
  4. The UK e-Science Programme as a whole is fostering the development of IT and grid technologies to enable new ways of doing faster, better or different research, with the aim of establishing a sustainable, national e-infrastructure for research and innovation which meets the aims of the government’s Investment Framework for Science and Innovation 2004-2014. e-Science and the e-infrastructure are thus contributing to the economic success of the UK.
  5. Further information at, the National e-Science Centre (NeSC) and the individual research councils: