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Science minister pledges £158m to boost Brit boffins' IT

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The government is to invest £158m in IT infrastructure, including data storage, networks and high performance computing, to support research institutions and industry.

Announcing the move, David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, said the largest allocation will pay for a national supercomputer to support advanced research, such as complex chemistry and climate science.

Known as Archer, the project will get £43m and, according to the government, could help sectors such aerospace and automotive to improve the analysis of transport accidents.

Other projects which are set to receive funding include:

  • £31m to improve high capacity networks, including the universities' Joint Academic Network (Janet).
  • £24m for high capacity data storage across the research councils.
  • £19m for specialist supercomputers in areas such as particle physics and astronomy, weather forecasting and climate change, and genome analysis.
  • £6.5m to establish a research fund for collaborative university projects to improve access to e-infrastructure.

The investment is in addition to the ring fenced science and research budget and is subject to business case approval.

Professor Rick Rylance, chair of Research Councils UK, said: "This investment is especially welcome in the challenging economic times we all face.

"Investment in high performance computing and increased data storage capacity is essential to ensure research in the UK remains at the cutting edge in the most advanced areas and is capable of stimulating growth."

Willetts described the funding programme as ambitious and forward looking. "This programme of investment will be vital for businesses and universities alike. It will improve research and manufacturing processes and reduce the time and money it takes to bring a product to market," he said.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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