Concerted action for the European HPC CoEs

FocusCoE contributes to the success of the European high-performance computing “ecosystem”. We do that by supporting the Centres of Excellence in high-performance computing to more effectively fulfil their role, which is to ensure that extreme scale applications result in tangible benefits for addressing scientific, industrial or societal challenges.

FocusCoE has initiated the foundation of the HPC CoE Council (HPC3), a body comprising all active HPC CoEs and aiming at strengthening the role of applications in the European HPC ecosystem. FocusCoE is continually supporting the operations of HPC3, and is active in establishing connections to a number of other players in the HPC eco-system, such as CASTIEL, EuroCC or the petascale and pre-exascale consortia.

In addition to this, FocusCoE supports the Centres of Excellence by organising various events:

    • Sectorial events, like BIOFIT2019, a life sciences sectorial event in France in December 2019, where FocusCoE organised a joint booth for CompBioMed, POP and BioEXCEL, as well as a shared online booth of EXCELLERAT and MaX CoE at CAE2020, and the participation of TREX, ECAM, and POP at EMMC2021, an online event where stakeholders from different materials modelling-related fields in industry and academia get together to discuss and interact.
    • Thematic webinars: one for an industrial audience on Opportunities and Challenges for Industrial Applications” in February 2021, and another one during the HIPEAC sessions: “Industrial Challenges and Innovation Opportunities of CoEs in Medical/Bio/Pharma sectors in May 2021, with participation from by CompBioMed, PerMedCoe, BioExcel and several Industrial Partners.
    • Joint participation in HPC related conferences or exhibitions, like a workshop at the European HPC Summit Week 2021, consisting of a session on “CoEs on the road to exascale” and a session on “HPC education and training – perspectives from EU13 Member States”, as well as supporting and organising the CoEs’ contribution to the PRACE booth at ISC 2021 Digital and the Teratec Forum 2021.
    • Internal events and trainings, like the “Business Webinar: Interaction with Industry and SMEs”, a joint FocusCoE and HPC3 workshop for CoEs on co-design in March 2021, or the first CoE joint technical workshop in January 2021 with participants from the CoEs HiDALGO, EXCELLERAT, and ChEESE.
    • A pan-European HPC Training Stakeholder Workshop on 8th Oct 2019 in Brussels, organised in conjunction with the European Commission. It attracted 32 experts and stakeholders to define the training requirements for different domains and target audiences across academia and industry, and to examine how those requirements may be met by existing or new European and national programmes on HPC education and training.
    • Training events for CoE staff and personnel, like the pedagogical workshop in Nov 2020 organised in collaboration with the CodeRefinery project that covered training best practices (including tips for online teaching), and the Sustainability Training Workshop, organised with support from ConceptionX, that covered various topics related to the commercialisation of research.

These efforts are continuously improved by conducting evaluation surveys, and the Centres of Excellence are included in the discussions on which common topics to choose for future events, as well as finding synergies. Furthermore, the FocusCoE team created booklets to share useful lessons learned and tips when organising or attending sectorial events or thematic webinars. These two booklets are available online .

As a multiplier, FocusCoE supports all of these events with communications via the website, social media channels (e.g. announcements or live tweets during the events), Slack, and direct mailing, in order to further increase the individual CoEs’ visibility. The coordination and support action furthermore develops dissemination materials, in some cases particularly for these events, with a common branding, like visuals, posters or an infographic categorising the Centres of Excellence and a Service booklet.

Further dissemination activities on behalf of FocusCoE highlight the CoEs’ commonalities in certain areas, for instance, in an article on how their supercomputing applications can help contain the corona virus pandemic. FocusCoE has also been involved in joint dissemination of the CoE training services and offerings at the EuroHPC Summit Week, March 2021, highlighting how the CoEs collectively take a multi-faceted approach to upskill different communities. Lastly, FocusCoE also collects use cases and industrial success stories on the website to further express the CoEs’ impact, and shares in particular events and news that are of interest for all the Centres of Excellence, in a bi-monthly newsletter.

FocusCoE is taking an outward view of Innovation Management and Sustainability across all of the HPC CoEs.  This has produced a report discussing the approaches of the CoEs and a list of recommendations on best practices, and prompted the creation of a Sustainability Working Group.  The Innovation Management and Sustainability report is currently under review and will be released to the CoEs in full or part within the coming weeks. Moreover, FocusCoE compiled an overview of innovations emerging from the Centres of Excellence.

Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow - at Scale

(c) CompBioMed

From computing the reduction of noise and fuel for passenger airplanes to assessing the effects of climate change – applications in high-performance computing (HPC) help tackle some of the world’s biggest societal, scientific, and economic challenges.

The development of the next generation of  supercomputing systems – exascale systems, with computing speeds a billion times higher than current desktop computers – targets the future needs of such applications. However, enabling these applications to effectively use ever larger (and increasingly complex) computing systems is a major milestone which has yet to be achieved, keeping in mind that the first pre-Exascale machines will soon be available in Europe, according to the EuroHPC strategy.

After an investment of 42 million Euro in 2015, the European Commission confirmed its support with an additional budget of 74 million Euro in December 2018 resulting in 10 operational European HPC Centres of Excellence (CoEs) for computing applications. In October 2020, four more CoEs officially started their activities.

Achieving excellence in HPC Applications takes a pivotal place – it is the applications that deliver solutions to the aforementioned challenges – in the European HPC Ecosystem alongside the development of Exascale technologies and provision of access to extreme-scale infrastructure.

Simultaneously, FocusCoE has been selected as a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) in order to support these CoEs in their mission to contribute to a globally competitive HPC ecosystem. The activitiy of the now 14 HPC Centres of Excellence continues to support the key role of applications and this is expected to be a crucial element within the EuroHPC Programme.

Meet the FocusCoE consortium

The FocusCoE project consortium consist of 11 partners:

scapos AG, Germany

Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), France

Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, Sweden

High-Performance Computing Centre, University of Stuttgart, Germany

Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputacion, Spain

University College London, UK

Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA)

National University of Ireland

Teratec, France

Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany

Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe AISBL

Frequently Asked Questions

High-performance computing (HPC) refers to systems with extremely high computational capabilities. They involve hundreds of thousands of processors working in parallel to analyse billions of pieces of data in real-time. Today’s most powerful systems can perform calculations thousands of times faster than a normal desktop computer. The European Union has recognised high performance computing as a key component of the digital single market strategy.

High-performance computer simulations provide important insights to predict the behaviour of processes and products in many areas of science and engineering. It provides important tools, e.g. to the automotive industry, aerospace, biotechnology, environmental science science including climate research, medical technology, intelligent manufacturing, engineering among many others. The fastest computers in the world today are already incredibly powerful. Nevertheless, many scientific and industrial challenges demand still more computing power, for instance bioscience, engineering or material design.

Over the last decades, the availability and usability of HPC systems has become one of the determining factors for the progress of science and a strategic resource for Europe’s future. The accuracy of the analysis, the quality of the results and the potential of national and international collaborations in science and industry are more and more depending on the available computing infrastructure. Mastering advanced computing technologies from hardware to software has become essential for innovation, growth and jobs.

Over the last decades, the availability and usability of HPC systems has become one of the determining factors for the progress of science and a strategic resource for Europe’s future. The accuracy of the analysis, the quality of the results and the potential of national and international collaborations in both science and industry are more and more depending on the available computing infrastructure. Mastering advanced computing technologies from hardware to software has become essential for innovation, growth and jobs.

For the European Commission, HPC needs an EU-level policy to optimise national and European investments, addressing the entire HPC ecosystem. Therefore, its HPC Strategy was adopted in 2012 and implemented in the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020.

Based on contractual Public-Private Partnership on HPC (cPPP on HPC), a strong cooperation with the HPC stakeholders is set up and developed an ambitious Research & Inovation funding strategy, addressing the following aspects:

  • HPC facilities via the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE), established since October 2012
  • HPC technologies via the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme, represented by the the European Technology Platform for HPC (ETP4HPC)
  • and HPC applications via the establishment of Centres of Excellence (CoEs); the CoEs are funded via the e-infrastructures programme which aims to address the needs of European researchers for digital services in terms of networking, computing and data management.

These three pillars are building the European HPC Ecosystem.


The European Centres of Excellence (CoEs) for high-performance computing are promoting the use of upcoming exascale and extreme performance computing capabilities, prepare the existing parallel codes for this next generation of supercomputers and provide e.g. consulting and training. The CoEs cover different areas, from engineering and renewable energy to Big Data science and bio-molecular research.

There are currently 14 CoEs that got selected by the European Commission under different research infrastructure calls: BioExcelChEESE, CoEC, CompBioMed, E-CAM, EoCoEESiWACEEXCELLERAT, HiDALGO, MaX, NOMAD, PerMedCoE, POP2, and TREX 


Focus CoE is contributing to the success of the European HPC ecosystem and the EuroHPC Initiative by supporting the CoEs to more effectively fulfil their role within the ecosystem and initiative:  ensuring that extreme scale applications result in tangible benefits for addressing scientific, industrial or societal challenges. 

Focus CoE is doing this by creating an effective platform for the CoEs to coordinate strategic directions and collaboration. It addresses possible fragmentation of activities across the CoEs and coordinates interactions with the overall HPC ecosystem. It provides support services for the CoEs in relation to both industrial outreach and promotion of their services and competences by acting as a focal point for users to discover those services.

The work of the CoEs in areas like environmental science, renewable energy, bioscience, medicine or Big Data and Global System science is influencing many aspects of our everyday life.

Focus CoE ‘s goal is to promote the CoEs services and findings to ever more partners from science and industry and thereby reinforce the positive impact of high-performance computing in all of the areas covered by the CoEs. To achieve this, Focus CoE provides a number of services to the CoEs and supports them in terms of promoting their training offer, coordinate the industrial outreach and foster communication.

As an example, EXCELLERAT is a CoE with a strong focus on HPC in engineering. One major use case of high-performance computing in engineering is the improvement of aerodynamics of cars and airplanes, which reduces fuel consumption and emissions. The improvements achieved through the simulations on HPC resources therefore not only add to the competitiveness of the industries, but also to the societal goal of better air quality.

Another example is the use of high-performance computing in medicine by the CoE CompBioMed. The cutting edge of computational biomedicine harnesses computer simulations that are conducted on massively powerful supercomputers. It allows larger and more complex biological systems to be simulated, yielding better, more accurate, and more meaningful output. Find out more in this stunning video:
In urgent computing, scientists can use supercomputers to model complex phenomena in order to save lives. The ChEESE CoE is harnessing exascale computing capabilities to prepare our society against natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Leading European HPC centers, academia, hardware developers, as well as SMEs, industry and public governance bodies such as civil protection are working together to prepare European flagship codes for upcoming pre-Exascale and Exascale supercomputing systems to tackle global challenges in the domain of solid earth:
Focus CoE supports the CoEs to promote their competences and services to industrial users, with a particular focus on SMEs. It creates awareness of the European CoE brand and offers access to the CoEs broad training offers. Furthermore, Focus CoE provides an analysis of user-sectors and market requirements, helping the CoEs thus to better target their offering.
Today’s most powerful computer systems are able to perform more than 1015 operations per second (“petascale”). In a few years, they are expected to reach 1018 operations per second (“exascale”). Exascale computing systems are capable of at least one exaFLOPS, or a billion billion calculations per second.