Transforming business through technology at the Hartree Centre

  • 167 projects delivered – focused on developing tools and applications in key sectors
  • 70% of projects with repeat clients
  • 54% of clients reported increased capacity to innovate
  • 42% of clients reported improved international competiveness
  • half of users reported sales are increasing or expected to increase as a result of working with the Hartree Centre

In the first four years of operation, the STFC Hartree Centre has been a hive of activity; working with a range of industry sectors to address their business challenges using emerging digital technologies.

Home to some of the most advanced computing technologies and experts in the UK, the Hartree Centre is here to transform the competitiveness of UK industry through the use high performance computing (HPC), big data and cognitive technologies (or artificial intelligence/AI).

It looks like our clients are very happy with the work we are producing with them. Half of those consulted have seen or expect to see an increase in their sales as a result of working with us. We are also making strong positive contributions to the innovative capacity (54%), reputation (42%) and international competiveness (42%) of Hartree Centre clients and users.

A newly published report has demonstrated the positive impacts that the Hartree Centre is having on UK businesses.

The economic impacts are significant: estimated as providing up to £27.5 million in commercial benefits to users, based on their first three years after working with us.

So what does this mean for businesses using the centre?

Solving problems, seeing results

Making the unaffordable available

Working with the Hartree Centre as part of the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus eco-system, SME WaveReach has sped up prototype development through access to collaborative opportunities and equipment that would otherwise have been unaffordable.

Reducing time to market

Unilever’s packaging team estimates that digital product design has the potential to cut innovation process costs by up to 65% and reduce the time to market by up to 50%.

By slashing run-times for even the most complex simulations from weeks to days or hours, we are helping Unilever to optimise the whole packaging design process. This accelerates decision making and improves sustainability by reducing the need for physical testing.

Faster simulations, faster results

The Hartree Centre helped Atkins to optimise their road traffic simulation modelling software. This enables it to run simulations and provide the results to their clients in a few minutes instead of days.

This work has enabled Highways England to gain insights into the economic impact of their infrastructure investments.

Future proofing through skills

We have hosted or assisted on over 130 training courses and activities at the Hartree Centre.

Training enables knowledge transfer and skills development through collaborative projects and services. The Hartree Centre is also helping clients on an individual basis to build their in house skills through one-to-one training and the hosting of post-doc students. For example, Infineum, an international business that formulate and manufacture petroleum additives, paid for a post-doc at the Hartree Centre to develop and integrate modelling capability and expertise within the company.

The future is bright

We continue to grow significantly in expertise, technologies, partnerships and projects, which will deliver even more economic and productivity benefits to the UK. One such area is the Cognitive Accelerator.

This collaboration with IBM enables businesses to make full use of their data through the IBM Watson platform, and our in-house cognitive computing skills, to solve their challenges and give them a competitive advantage over others in their industry.

Reducing hospital stress

We’re working with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on the development of a new app and chatbot service. We are using the latest cognitive computing technologies to predict and answer questions from patients and families. The chatbot, a friendly elephant called Oli, is now in beta mode on the Alder Hey website and the Alder Play app and needs people to ask questions to help it learn. The more questions it is asked, the more it will be able to understand and help patient needs. This reduces stress for parents and children and frees up essential clinician time.

The full report, carried out by independent evaluation specialists Technopolis, covers the first four years of the centre’s delivery work since being established in 2013.

Download the full report here


(Credit: STFC)

Last updated: 25 October 2018

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Science and Technology Facilities Council
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