Research intensive universities have state-of-the-art equipment which they want to share with each other, the research community and with industry – from anechoic chambers to wind tunnels, mass spectrometers to supercomputers. This would help to reduce costs and enable institutions to tap into relevant staff expertise.
What we're doing
Our vision is to work with the sector to develop services and standards that:
- Are interoperable and easy to access
- Help to streamline the equipment sharing process
- Embed asset sharing in institutional and research workflows
- Help the sector to evidence the progress it is making through asset sharing
We are working on three key projects to facilitate this:
This is a national portal that automatically discovers, harvests and aggregates data about institutional facilities and equipment across the UK. It offers an easy search interface to find and use a particular piece of equipment that may be located at another university or research institution.
Equipment.data has been developed by the University of Southampton with financial support and oversight from EPSRC. We are exploring how it can:
- Become a sustainable national service, while helping institutions comply with RCUK policy requirements
- Deliver added value to the sector by making it easier to search and engage with institutional partners in sharing equipment.
We are also:
- Developing connections between equipment.data and industry (eg, National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) brokerage, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Innovate UK)
- Exploring further development of analytics and reporting on the equipment available, use and sharing.
We are beta-testing Kit-Catalogue - an online system and mobile app developed by Loughbrough University with support from ourselves and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It can help organisations effectively catalogue, record and locate their kit, such as laboratory equipment, workshop machines and ICT tools.
The pilot will take place over a two year period with ten institutions. We will explore if Kit-Catalogue can:
- Make it easier for institutions to achieve efficiency savings through sharing facilities, both internally and externally
- Deliver demonstrable progress against the Research Council UK's (RCUK) strategic goals in this area.
We will also:
- Establish resource requirements to offer Kit-Catalogue as a full cloud hosted Jisc service
- Support further development of the Kit-Catalogue software, according to a roadmap developed with pilot institutions
These databases feed into the national equipment data portal - a one stop shop for high capital equipment sharing for research and industry.
Read more about this work
Many of the pilot institutions' Kit-Catalogue databases are now live. These include:
- Aston University (under construction)
- University of Birmingham (under construction)
- De Montfort University
- Loughborough University
- Newcastle University
- Northumbria University
- University College London (UCL)
- University of Leicester
- University of Nottingham
- University of Portsmouth (under construction)
- University of Brighton (under construction)
About frictionless supercomputing
Computer-based modelling and simulation is critical to businesses as diverse as high frequency trading, high value manufacturing and transport systems. However, there are enormous capital costs associated with setting up a high performance computing (HPC) centre and staff with the relevant expertise are difficult to recruit and retain.
Working with HPC Midlands, we have developed an agreement which provides access to £60m worth of UK's HPC expertise and facilities for research and industry.
How this works:
- We have produced a standardised contractual template (a "heads of agreement") - this includes clauses on intellectual property protection and an outline service level agreement
- Participating service providers then add details of their HPC facilities which includes added value services ie, consultancy and access to licensed commercial software
- For projects requiring enhanced information assurance, there is a standard compliance process which has been developed in collaboration with Rolls Royce to meet their stringent requirements.
Find out more about how we are working with Rolls Royce to facilitate collaboration around supercomputing facilities via the Janet network.
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