FFplus opens call for business experiments and innovation studies using HPC and AI

High-performance computing (HPC), AI, and high-performance data analytics (HPDA) present immense opportunities for innovation and competitiveness among European SMEs and startups. FFplus, with a budget of €30 million, is now inviting proposals from companies keen on conducting business experiments and innovation studies to elevate their products, services, and operations.

This initiative places a new emphasis on fostering generative AI applications.

“By providing financial support, access to state-of-the-art EuroHPC resources, and expert advice on both technical and business development, FFplus aims to provide European SMEs and startups the framework they need to be successful and to create value in the digital economy,” says Dr-Ing. Bastian Koller, FFplus Project Coordinator and Deputy Director of the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart. “In this way, FFplus is an important link in Europe’s strategy for HPC and AI, connecting SMEs and startups to powerful computational resources that offer enormous innovation potential.”

The first open call for proposals, running until 4th September 2024, offers SMEs access to EuroHPC supercomputing resources. Participants will benefit from world-class tools and expertise in modelling and simulation, data analytics, machine learning, and AI. FFplus is particularly focused on supporting the development of generative AI software solutions and services, aiming to enhance technological advancement in European SMEs within this burgeoning field.

FFplus marks the latest chapter in the Fortissimo legacy. Over the past decade, the Fortissimo 1, Fortissimo 2, and FF4EuroHPC projects have established a robust reputation across Europe, successfully completing over 130 experiments with more than 300 partners. With a combined budget of €42.8 million, these projects have delivered 120 success stories from over 20 EU countries, showcasing how SMEs can leverage HPC and AI to innovate and create new products and services, thereby strengthening the EU economy.

As Anders Jensen, Executive Director of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) explained: “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 will propel SMEs to success and accelerate Europe’s economic growth through impactful innovation.”

Dr Guy Lonsdale, CEO at scapos AG and Open Call Lead elaborated: “Over the last decade, we have seen high-performance computing evolve beyond numerical methods to include data analytics, machine learning, and AI. The completely new aspect in FFplus is our focus on generative AI technology development. In the innovation studies, which represent a new type of Fortissimo activity, SMEs or startups with existing AI business models and business prospects can gain access to large-scale computational resources on EU supercomputers. This will allow them, for example, to develop and customise generative AI models, such as foundation and large language models.”

FFplus is funded by Digital Europe Programme (DEP), an EU funding programme focused on bringing digital technology to businesses, citizens and public administrations, with a total budget of up to €30 million. FFplus has a project duration of 48 months. This open call is the first of six that will be issued in the coming years.