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Grant ensures a sustainable future for software

1st April 2013


Software was highlighted as a key facility needed for high quality research by a recent Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) consultation. A sustained future for this valuable resource has now been assured thanks to a £4.2 million grant from EPSRC, which will establish the UK's Software Sustainability Institute (SSI).

A team of academics and software engineers based at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester and led by EPCC at the University of Edinburgh, will work in partnership with the research community to manage software beyond the lifetime of its original funding, so that it is strengthened, adapted and customised to maximise its value to future generations of researchers.

"The issue at the moment is that there are no co-ordinated ways of sustaining important research software once it comes to the end of its funding," said Neil Chue Hong, Director of the SSI and OMII-UK. "Some software gets abandoned when the project ends. Some systems are maintained in pockets on very much a best-effort basis rather than on the basis of any longer term strategy."

Mr Chue Hong and his collaborators will work with 30-40 groups across the UK, providing the expertise needed to create self-sustaining communities of researchers around important software. It is these communities that will ensure the software's future by keeping it up-to-date and developing it to meet new requirements. A wide range of disciplines are set to benefit from the SSI's work, with early projects encompassing climate change, nuclear fusion and medical imaging.

The SSI will collaborate with key researchers to identify and shape the software which is considered by its community to be the most important for research. Strategies for sustaining software will be optimised, and the best methods will be communicated to researchers through SSI consultancy. This work will help to stop the decay of software.

"The creation of the SSI will ensure that important software is sustained so that it can continue to contribute towards high quality research" said Mr Chue Hong.





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