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e-Science and Industry

AHM2007 saw several examples of the industrial exploitation of e-Science technologies. I organised a session on this theme for Grid Computing Now! (GCN), which was attended by some 300 people. Jim Austin and Yike Guo gave talks about their contrasting approaches to commercialising their research.

Jim has built his company, Cybula, from income, opting for the advantage of control and accepting slower growth. Yike has chosen an investment-based approach for Inforsense, achieving the fast growth required by his funders. Both explained how they found markets for their technologies. They also reflected on how to maintain both academic and commercial careers, using each to benefit the other while balancing their sometimes contrasting demands.

I followed with a short talk that gave a high-level outline of the state of advanced IT infrastructure in industry, drawing on some of the presentations given our Grids Mean Business track at OGF20. Of course, IT infrastructure is only one aspect of e-Science; there are also application-level advances that are suitable for take-up by industry.

Later in the week, Thomas Hartkens of Ixico presented their experience of exploiting e-Science infrastructure. Derek Hill had given an excellent contribution to a GCN webinar about their business case earlier back in March. In contrast, Thomas focussed more on the management details, particularly the quality management required to meet regulatory approval in medical informatics. This level of project management is new to many academics, so this talk was very informative for anyone considering taking the plunge into the commercial world.

AHM2007 also had many demonstrations of e-science projects that involve industrial partners. On our stand, which was one out of many, we hosted demos from 6 of the collaborative R&D projects on inter-enterprise computing funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

In summary, there are many good links between parts of the e-Science community and some companies. One of our tasks at GCN is to encourage more of these successes.

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