FFplus Project Launches Open Calls for SMEs to Leverage HPC and AI Tech

July 9, 2024

July 9, 2024 — With over a decade-long history and a strong reputation in Europe, the Fortissimo projects (Fortissimo 1 and 2, FF4EuroHPC) were granted a budget of €42.8 million (~US$46.3 million) and successfully executed more than 130 experiments involving more than 300 partners. These efforts have resulted in 120 success stories from over 20 EU countries, where SMEs developed new products and services with the help of HPC and AI, thereby bolstering the EU economy.

Building on the methods and accomplishments of the Fortissimo project series, FFplus, with a total budget of €30 million, will continue to support and empower SMEs and Start-ups towards innovation.

Project Coordinator Dr.-Ing. Bastian Koller, Deputy Director of the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart, explained another ambitious goal of the new Fortissimo project: “FFplus aims to provide SMEs and Start-ups with the framework they need to be competitive, successful and create value in the digital economy. This makes FFplus an important link between the implementation of the European HPC and AI strategy and the SMEs and Start-ups that can benefit massively from it. With financial support, access to state-of-the-art EuroHPC resources and expert advice on both technical and business development, we are committed to a vibrant and innovative industrial landscape in Europe.”

The project is funded by the Digital Europe Programme (DEP), an EU funding program focused on bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations, with a total budget of up to €30 million.

Anders Jensen, Executive Director of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) added: “FFplus is a strategic initiative funded by EuroHPC JU and designed to empower SMEs with cutting-edge HPC and AI technologies. By unlocking their innovation potential, FFplus propels SMEs to the forefront of technology, driving their success and accelerating Europe’s economic growth through impactful innovation.”

FFplus is a European initiative highlighting and promoting the adoption of High-Performance Computing (HPC) by SMEs and Start-ups across Europe. The scope of the targeted actions includes both the solution of business challenges through computational methods on HPC systems and the use of supercomputing resources for the development of (generative) Artificial Intelligence (AI) software solutions and services.

The computational methods encompass a large range of possibilities: modelling and simulation, data analytics, machine learning, and AI – all options empowering SMEs through enhanced innovation and competitiveness. The strategic objective of using supercomputers for generative AI is to facilitate and strengthen the technological development of European SMEs in that important area.

Dr Guy Lonsdale, CEO at scapos and Open Call Lead commented on the targets of the calls: “With the FFplus project, we are both continuing the evolution of the previous Fortissimo projects and introducing a new type of activity (hence the “plus” in the project name). The completely new aspect of FFplus is the generative AI technology development actions. The classical Fortissimo approach is to demonstrate the impact of using HPC to address business challenges, aiming to improve the efficiency of business processes from product design to operational procedures. Over the last decade, we have seen an evolution beyond numerical methods to include data analytics, machine learning, and AI. Our overarching goal is to reach out to the entire EU SME ecosystem to inspire them to leverage HPC for their own business challenges.”

SMEs and Start-ups now have the opportunity to shift their innovation potential through the two types of Open Calls:

  • Business experiments will address the uptake of HPC by SMEs in order to solve specific business challenges of SMEs that have had no prior use of, or experience with, HPC services.
  • Innovation studies will support European SMEs and Start-ups already active in the field of generative AI technology, which lack the necessary computational resources to scale up.

Open Call Information

Submission deadline: September 4, 2024 at 17:00 Brussels local time

Business Experiments

Expected duration of experiments: maximum 15 months with targeted commencement January 1, 2025.
The indicative total funding budget for all business experiments funded under this call is €4 million. The maximum funding request per proposal is €200,000 (covering all participants).

Further information can be found here.

Innovation Studies

Expected duration of innovation studies: maximum 10 months with targeted commencement December 1st, 2024. The indicative total funding budget for all innovation studies funded under this call is €4 million. The maximum total funding for each innovation study is €300,000 (covering all participants).

More information can be found here.


Source: FFplus Project

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