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23 September, 2021 - 12:35 By Tony Quested

NVIDIA expands Cambridge supercomputer initiative

US tech giant NVIDIA has backed the UK government’s launch of a new AI strategy and announced a programme to open the Cambridge-1 supercomputer – based at the Kao Data hub in Harlow – to a broad church of British healthcare startups.

David Hogan, vice-president of Enterprise EMEA at NVIDIA, said: “This is an important step in furthering the UK’s strategic advantage as a global leader in AI. 

“NVIDIA is proud to support the UK’s AI ecosystem with Cambridge-1, the country’s most powerful supercomputer, and our Inception programme that includes more than 500 of the UK’s most dynamic AI startups.”

NVIDIA also today announced the next phase for Cambridge-1, in which UK-based startups will be able to submit applications to harness the system’s capabilities, during a talk at the Wired Health:Tech conference via Kimberly Powell, NVIDIA’s vice president of Healthcare.

Powell said: “AI and digital biology are reshaping the drug discovery process, and startups are by definition on the bleeding edge of innovation. “Cambridge-1 is the modern instrument for science and we look forward to opening the possibilities for discovery even wider to the UK startup ecosystem.”

Powell will also describe today work underway with UK biotech company and NVIDIA Inception member Peptone, which will have access to Cambridge-1. Peptone is developing a protein engineering system that blends generative AI models and computational molecular physics to discover therapies to fight inflammatory diseases like COPD, psoriasis and asthma.

“Access to the compute power of Cambridge-1 will be a game changer in our effort to fuse computation with laboratory experiments to change the way protein drugs are engineered,” said Dr. Kamil Tamiola, Peptone CEO and founder.

“We plan to use Cambridge-1 to vastly improve the design of antibodies to help treat numerous inflammatory diseases.”  

NVIDIA anticipates that giving UK startups the opportunity to use Cambridge-1 will accelerate their work, enabling them to bring innovative products and services to market faster, as well as ensure that the U.K. remains a compelling location in which to develop and scale up their businesses.

Startups that are selected for the new programme will not only gain access to Cambridge-1. They will also be invited to meet with the system’s founding partners to amplify collaboration potential, and access membership benefits of NVIDIA Inception, a global programme designed to nurture startups, which has more UK startups as members than from any other country in Europe. 

Founding partners of Cambridge-1 are: AstraZeneca, GSK, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College London and Oxford Nanopore Technologies. 

NVIDIA Inception provides startups with critical go-to-market support, training and technology. Benefits include access to hands-on, cloud-based training through the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute, preferred pricing on hardware, invitations to exclusive networking events, opportunities to engage with venture capital partners and more.

Startups in NVIDIA Inception remain supported throughout their entire life cycle, helping them accelerate both platform development and time to market.  

Startup applications can be submitted before December 30 at midnight GMT, with the announcement of those selected expected early in 2022. 

Launched in July 2021, Cambridge-1 is the U.K.’s most powerful supercomputer. It is the first NVIDIA supercomputer designed and built for external research access. NVIDIA will collaborate with researchers to make much of this work available to the greater scientific community. 

Featuring 80 DGXTM A100 systems integrating NVIDIA A100 GPUs, BlueField®-2 DPUs and NVIDIA HDR InfiniBand networking, Cambridge-1 is an NVIDIA DGX SuperPODTM that delivers more than 400 petaflops of AI performance and 8 petaflops of Linpack performance. The system is located at a facility operated by NVIDIA partner Kao Data. 

Cambridge-1 is the first supercomputer NVIDIA has dedicated to advancing industry-specific research in the UK. The company also intends to build an AI Center for Excellence in Cambridge featuring a new Arm-based supercomputer, which will support more industries across the country.

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