NVIDIA Offers Healthcare Startups Supercomputer Access

It's a call for submissions to access Cambridge-1, the "most powerful supercomputer in the UK".

NVIDIA has made a call for submissions from healthcare startups to access Cambridge-1, the “most powerful supercomputer in the UK”.

The plan is to advance healthcare with AI and digital biology. The startups would be sharing access with the five founding partners involved with the computer: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca, King’s College London, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

UK-based company Peptone, which has been collaborating with NVIDIA on AI-driven protein engineering, will also be utilising the computer for its research.

NVIDIA says the selected companies, to be announced in early 2022, will also be invited to meet with the founding partners and will gain access to NVIDIA Inception benefits including go-to-market support, training and technology.

In October 2020, NVIDIA revealed its plan to build Cambridge-1. According to the company, the supercomputer boasts 400 petaflops of AI Performance and eight petaflops of Linpack performance.

The project was created to “use the powerful combination of AI and simulation to accelerate the digital biology revolution and bolster the country’s world-leading life sciences industry”.

In July 2021, the company unveiled Cambridge-1 to the general public, which it called a $100 million (£73 billion) investment.

Cambridge-1’s reveal came a few weeks after NVIDIA announced its intent to buy British chip designer and competitor Arm from SoftBank.

The deal prompted probes in the US, UK, China and Europe after Google, Microsoft, Huawei and others raised concerns that the deal could negatively impact the semiconductor industry.

The UK probe is being led by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which submitted a report to then-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden on 20 July.

The CMA released an executive summary on 20 August which found that concerns the merger would stifle competition and innovation in “a number of markets, including data centres, gaming, the ‘internet of things’, and self-driving cars”.

NVIDIA had plans to produce an Arm-based supercomputer at Cambridge as well, but those plans are presumably on-hold until these probes are finished. Currently, Arm and NVIDIA have until September 2022 to finalise a deal.

AI’s use and efficacy in the world of healthcare research is still largely untested.

A 2019 paper written by Tom Davenport and Dr. Ravi Kalakota and published by the Royal College of Physicians’ Future Healthcare Journal expressed optimism for AI’s potential usefulness, particularly in the world of machine learning, it also shared misgivings about whether AI would ever prove useful enough to be worth using.

However, a 2020 paper published in Future Virology and written by Dr. Neelima Arora, Dr. Amit Bannerjee and Dr. M. Lakshmi Narasu laid out data and examples which showed that the use of AI in all aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, from early diagnosis to contact tracing to vaccine development, had been incredibly useful in the rapid evolution of procedures, treatments and vaccines to combat the pandemic.

Further evidence of AI’s benefits in these fields as related to the pandemic was provided within an April 2021 review published in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews and conducted by Jawad Rasheed, Akhtar Jamil, Alaa Ali Hameed, Dr. Fadi Al-Turjman and Ahmad Rasheed. It remains to be seen, however, if Cambridge-1’s processing power will provide similar aid to its users’ fields of research.

Interested startups can apply for access to Cambridge-1 on NVIDIA’s website. Applications close on 30 December.

Zephin Livingston
Zephin Livingston
Zephin Livingston is a content writer for eWeek, eWeek UK, IT Business Edge, and SoftwarePundit with years of experience in multiple fields including cybersecurity, tech, cultural criticism, and media literacy. They're currently based out of Seattle.

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