By Marcus Leach

UK scientists and businesses will have access to the most sophisticated technology keeping them at the cutting edge of research and development, as details of the Government’s multi-million pound e-infrastructure investment were announced today (Thursday) by David Willetts.

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.

For sectors such as aerospace and automotive, this could lead to better analysis of car incidents, helping industry build safer vehicles in less time.

E-infrastructure also supports the world’s best researchers through increased data storage and faster networks.

“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," Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said.

"This ambitious and forward-looking 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.

“This will drive growth and innovation across a whole range of sectors and ensure our leading institutions and companies are able to exploit the very latest technology.”

The following projects will also benefit from the £158 million investment:

* £30 million for the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus, supporting research into the latest product development software;

* £24 million for high capacity data storage across the Research Councils, ensuring researchers can easily access complex information from experiments;

* £31 million to improve high capacity networks, including JANET, the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s system that helps the higher education community share large amounts of research data more easily;

* £19 million for specialist supercomputers in areas such as particle physics and astronomy, weather forecasting and climate change, and genome analysis;

* £4.75 million for the UK Space Agency to support the collection and storage of data from satellites; and

* £6.5 million to establish a research fund for collaborative university projects to improve access to e-infrastructure.

“This investment is especially welcome in the challenging economic times we all face," Chair of Research Councils UK (RCUK) Professor Rick Rylance said.

"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. It signals once again RCUK’s commitment to supporting the best and the most innovative work and ensuring the future prosperity and wellbeing of the UK.”

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

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