FF4EuroHPC Initiative Highlights Results of First Open Call

By Oliver Peckham

June 16, 2021

EuroHPC is kicking into high gear, with seven of its first eight systems detailed – and one of them already operational. While the systems are, perhaps, the flashiest endeavor of the European Commission’s HPC effort, they are far from EuroHPC’s sole component. One of the others is FF4EuroHPC, an initiative that aims to help facilitate access to HPC-related technologies for small- and mid-sized enterprises. FF4EuroHPC, which is funded to the tune of €9.9 million  under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, recently announced the results of the first of two open calls that it will issue.

That first call was open from November 2nd, 2020 to January 27th, 2021, hosting a total budget of €3 million (around $3.6 million USD) with a max allocation of €200,000 per proposal. The call was targeted at attracting “innovative, agile SMEs” that would be able to “maximize the innovation potential of individual experiments” and which had “the ability to provide compelling success stories about using advanced HPC services and technologies to solve business challenges.”

According to FF4EuroHPC, the first call received “68 high-quality submissions involving 202 partners from 25 European countries” (and Canada). 

Of the 68 proposals, a team of 37 external reviewers assisted in selecting a total of 16 for funding, for a total amount of €3,022,317. Three countries accounted for nearly all of the proposals: Italy, with 23; Spain, with 19; and France, with 10. This trend carried into the approved projects, as well, with five going to Italy (€890,000 total), three going to Spain (€520,000 total) and another three going to France (€420,000 total). Denmark (€400,000 total) and Greece (€340,000 total) each netted two approved proposals, with four other countries rounding out the total to 19 countries represented by the 16 projects.

The plurality of submitted and accepted projects were in the manufacturing area, with five manufacturing projects making it through the process. Three of the remaining approved projects operate in the (somewhat nebulous) “professional scientific/technical activities” space; two in human health and social work; and other projects spanning water supply and waste management, financial and insurance activities, wholesale and retail trade, education and other fields. 

FF4EuroHPC says that of the 16 experiments, which “are starting as we speak,” 11 (68%) are using machine learning techniques in addition to HPC applications and services.

FF4EuroHPC plans to use the results of these proposals to “create awareness and encourage SMEs from different industries to take the opportunity to use HPC for their business, gain new knowledge, make successful collaborations and enjoy the benefits HPC [provides] for product and operational development or optimization.”

The second and (for now) final open call is expected this month. To learn more about the submitted and accepted proposals, follow this link.

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