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Government splashes £158m on research e-infrastructure

A number of university supercomputers will receive funding

The government is set to make a £158 million investment in e-infrastructure "to power growth and innovation" in research centres.

The money includes an extra £13 million chipped in by the chancellor in his Autumn statement. The government said in a statement that "UK scientists and businesses will have access to the most sophisticated technology, keeping them at the cutting edge of research and development".

Minister for universities and science David Willetts outlined the plans on Thursday. The investment includes £43 million for ARCHER, a new national supercomputer to support advanced research, such as complex chemistry and climate science, while helping industry design new products.

Willetts said: "We should not think of infrastructure as just roads and railways, it's also the networks and systems that underpin our world-leading science and research base."

As part of the expenditure, £30 million will be given to the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, supporting research into the latest product development software; £24 million is for high capacity data storage across the Research Councils; and there is £31 million to improve high capacity networks, including JANET which helps the higher education community share large amounts of research data more easily.

In addition, £19 million is allocated for specialist supercomputers in areas such as particle physics and astronomy, weather forecasting and climate change, and genome analysis. And £4.75 million is being given to the UK Space Agency to support the collection and storage of data from satellites; and another £6.5 million is set aside to establish a research fund for collaborative university projects to improve access to e-infrastructure.

The government says all the investment is in addition to the ring-fenced science and research budget.

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