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23 February 2021

University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computing Facility extension completes

University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computing Facility extension completes

Edinburgh’s drive to become the Data Capital of Europe has moved a step closer after Robertson Construction recently completed the new building to house the Edinburgh International Data Facility (EIDF)

Computer Room 4 is an extension to the Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) for University of Edinburgh at its Easter Bush Campus, and is focussed on high resiliency, energy efficiency and flexibility.

EPCC, the supercomputing centre at The University of Edinburgh, operates many of the UK's national supercomputing and research data services at the ACF.

The Edinburgh International Data Facility is supported by £78.9 million from the UK Government, £670,000 from the Scottish Government, and £61.3 million from higher education partners as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

A key component of the programme is the creation of the Edinburgh International Data Facility in Scotland's capital, with five Data-Driven Innovation hubs being built across the two universities.

Professor Mark Parsons, Director of EPCC, said: "Making Edinburgh the Data Capital of Europe requires a data facility of international significance. Despite all of the challenges of 2020, Robertson have delivered an excellent new home for the EIDF. I've been impressed throughout the process – we installed the first IT equipment the day after receiving the keys – a very successful project for all concerned."

The new facility can host up to 270 cabinets, enabling the Edinburgh International Data Facility and the DDI programme a platform on which it can grow over the next 10 years.

Incorporating innovative cooling solutions, the high resiliency computer room is one of the most efficient computer rooms possible.

David Cairns, managing director, Robertson Central East,said: "Edinburgh is another step closer in its ambitions to become Europe's data capital with the completion of the EIDF.

"The extension to the Advanced Computing Facility is of huge significance and provides the University even greater presence on the global stage. We have built a strong partnership with the University in recent years and are proud to have been involved in the transformation of such an important facility."

UK Government Minister Iain Stewart said:

"The Edinburgh International Data Facility is a superb asset that will help bring jobs, investment and prosperity to the entire region.

"The UK's growing cyber-sector attracted record investment last year despite the global pandemic, contributing more than £4 billion to our economy and attracting £800 million of investment. In Scotland, cyber-sector companies in Edinburgh have helped strengthen the cyber defences of the NHS and local councils during the pandemic.

"Across Scotland, the UK Government is investing more than £1.5 billion in Growth Deal projects like this that will create jobs and build back better for communities."

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said:

"City Region and Growth Deals will be a crucial part of our economic recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19) as we work towards a fairer and more inclusive Scotland. We are investing £300 million over 15 years to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal across transport, housing, culture, innovation and skills to help achieve this."

The new facility will no doubt be a talking point at Scotland's Cyber Week and in particular at the Cyber Security Event 2021, being held yesterday and today (22nd - 23rd February 2021), which will see one of the largest virtual gatherings of public sector cyber security and IT professionals from across Scotland and beyond. The virtual event will examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in cyber security threats and offer the latest thinking on how organisations can protect themselves.

The EIDF was procured through the SCAPE Scotland Construction framework.

Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE, said: "Data-led digital innovation will be critical to growth and investment as we move towards an increasingly digital economy.

"To this end, investing in world-class digital infrastructure to support cutting-edge research and development is key to ensuring a strong economic recovery post-Covid. The EIDF is a shining example of this in action and we're proud to have supported Robertson, The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University in accelerating the project through to completion."