In this joint blog post by Commissioner Oettinger and Étienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy of Luxembourg, both argue that the EU has to join forces to provide for the supercomputing and data facilities Europe needs. Luxembourg shows the way by launching a HPC-Project.

We are convinced that Europe has a unique opportunity to act and invest in the development and deployment of High Performance Computing (HPC) technology, Big Data and applications to ensure the competitiveness of its research and its industries.

On a global level, Europe is falling behind in both HPC and Big data. Only one European supercomputing facility ranks among the world top 10 supercomputers, whereas China holds the first position and the U.S. hosts 5 of the top 10 facilities. The risk that we get technologically locked, delayed or deprived of strategic know-how is very real. There is an increasing recognition of the strategic security and economic impact of HPC enabled applications.

Both the European Commission and Luxembourg are fully committed to giving Europe the super computing and data facilities it needs. But one thing is also crystal clear: To develop the HPC, we need several billion euros – an amount no individual Member State can or is willing to finance on its own. We have thus to join forces to close the investment gap by bringing together regional and national funding with complementary European funding mechanisms.

The Luxembourg government has already shown how this could work in practice and launched the “Important Project of Common European Interest” (IPCEI) on HPC and Big Data Enabled Applications, together with France, Italy and Spain. This project intends to develop a number of real-time integrative HPC applications towards a “Smart Nation”, appropriate to the Luxembourg and European context and environment. This topic will serve initiatives like FinTech, Smart Space, Smart Mobility, Smart Energy, Smart Building, Smart Water, Smart City, Smart Agriculture or Manufacturing 4.0.

IPCEIs are major projects that make a significant contribution to economic growth, jobs and the competitiveness of the European industry and economy. They can bring together knowledge, expertise, public and private resources and economic players throughout Europe to undertake large-scale, investment-intensive and highly innovative projects. Just as several decades ago, EU countries joined together to create Airbus which put Europe's aviation industry on the global stage.

We welcome and applaud an IPCEI in HPC and strongly believe that it is a powerful vehicle to build a strong European ecosystem, comprising the whole value chain – from hardware to architecture and software development. The project will establish Large Scale Pan-European Pilots that accelerate the deployment of high-performance computing by European industry and Big data enabled applications.

The European Commission will do its part and soon launch a major initiative addressing the deployment in Europe of a world-class data and computing infrastructure: the European Cloud Initiative. This strategy includes the HPC infrastructure layer and foresees a Cloud where data needed for European research can be stored and processed. It builds on the idea that no Member State on its own can finance the infrastructure needed but we have to coordinate our financial instruments.

The European Commission will table the European Cloud Initiative early in 2016. Luxembourg, France, Italy and Spain, in close consultation with other Member States, will provide an HPC and Big Data Enabled Applications implementation roadmap to the European Council and European Commission in September 2016. Both steps are needed in order to improve the European capabilities in the digital area significantly.

 

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