IBM wins award for developing computer grid to solve world's most
15 July 2009
IBM (NYSE:IBM) was awarded the Coffey International Award for its
application of technical expertise in innovative ways to address the
greatest societal challenges of our time at the annual Business in the
Community (BITC) Awards for Excellence in London last week.
IBM earned the award for the World Community Grid, which aggregates
spare computing capacity of 1.3 million PCs belonging to 460,000
volunteers from over 200 countries and uses it for humanitarian
research. It has the equivalent in processing power to a Top 10
The Award was presented to Larry Hirst, Chairman IBM Europe Middle
East Africa, by HRH The Prince of Wales, President of BITC, at a garden
party reception hosted by The Prince at his home, Clarence House.
Charles Duff, Corporate Development Manager, Coffey International
Limited and Chair of judges said: "The scale, significance, power and
potential of World Community Grid is impressive. IBM has collaborated
with a wide spectrum of research partners and encouraged businesses,
community groups and individuals to provide free computational capacity
to support international humanitarian projects.
"The judges salute IBM's programme and hope that the recognition
conferred by this award will encourage individuals everywhere to join
with IBM so that more research can be completed even faster as part of
this exciting, inspiring and innovative development initiative. We also
challenge the business world at large to sign up to World Community Grid
and help grow its potential to achieve even greater impact on the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the world's most pressing
World Community Grid is a powerful example of IBM's recently
announced smarter planet vision in which systems from utility grids to
healthcare can be made to work better, as a result of increased data,
interconnected networks and greater embedded intelligence.
According to Larry Hirst of IBM, "A lot of important scientific
research isn't happening. It lacks the funding for the supercomputing
capacity that is needed to execute large and complex calculations. World
Community Grid changes the rules. It's free and available to both public
and not for profit organizations for use in humanitarian research that
might not otherwise be performed.
"The Grid is about large scale volunteerism — utilizing an
individual's unused computer capacity to address scientific problems —
and in doing so accelerates research breakthroughs that underpin the
Millennium Development Goals. This helps to make the world a smarter,
better place. At IBM we appreciate winning the BITC Coffey International
Award, and it is my hope that through the award awareness will be
increased, more people will join the grid, and more scientists will
submit research proposals."
World Community Grid works when an individual's computer is on but
not in active use. It performs a small piece of complex scientific
research, receiving and returning the results via World Community Grid.
There is no need to leave an idle computer turned on, but while it's
active and a user takes a break for even a few seconds, World Community
Grid harnesses the spare capacity. The accumulation of the idle time in
short spurts from millions of computers is the equivalent of one of the
world's top 10 supercomputers.
World Community Grid is operated by IBM and provided for free to
support not-for-profit humanitarian research projects. In total 14
projects are currently running or have completed their computational
phase, involving teams of scientists from 35 research centres in six
countries. Projects cover three big topics of nutrition, disease and
environment. These projects are contributing to five of the eight
Millennium Development Goals.
IBM's investment in World Community Grid has provided research
scientists with over 252,000 years of computer run-time at no cost, and
delivered over 290 million research results since 2004. It enables
research which would not otherwise be possible because of the time it
would take for the calculations to run on the scientist's own computers.
As a result scientists can focus on clinical work to develop the real
world applications as opposed to IT, and by significantly accelerating
research, develop new approaches and move more quickly into subsequent
phases of testing.
More than 400 organizations are official partners of the WCG, and
many thousands more teams have formed through the site. World Community
Grid provides public and community organizations such as UNICEF, United
Way and Aids Action Committee with a resource to generate public
awareness and engagement around their own key issues.
It also provides commercial organizations with another means for them
and their employees to contribute to a variety of social issues.
Organizations such as BankInter, Serco and Ogilvy are partners on the
For individuals, World Community Grid helps translate interest into
awareness and engagement and promotes volunteerism. This collaborative
technology enables people to contribute, altruistically or for deeper
personal reasons. This is evidenced by the 200-250 new members who join
each day, and by the level of dialogue IBM sees in this online
World Community Grid exemplifies how the application of IBM's leading
edge technology and expertise delivers exceptional value. It epitomizes
one of IBM's three values: "Innovation that matters for our company and
Details of major projects to date:
- Fight AIDS@Home (with The Scripps Research Institute):
identified over 40 potential drug candidates in 6 months instead of
5 years. Scientists are now proceeding with laboratory work to
develop new drugs.
- Discovering Dengue Drugs - Together (with The University of
Texas Medical Branch and the University of Chicago): identified new
potential compounds and are now proceeding with laboratory work.
- Nutritious Rice (with University of Washington):
strains with potential to provide better yields, adapt to climatic
changes and improve disease and pest resistance — 15 million results
returned since launch in May 2008.
- Help Defeat Cancer (with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey,
which is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and
Dentistry-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School): helped prove the
scientists' more accurate technique for identifying cancer and won a
competitive $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of
Health to further deploy its system.
- The Clean Energy Project (with Harvard University):
materials to create a more efficient and lower cost solar cell - 1.1
million results returned since launch in December 2008.
- Help Fight Childhood Cancer (with Chiba Cancer Center
Institute and Chiba University in Japan): discovering drug
treatments for neuroblastoma, the most common cause of death in
children with solid tumours — 4.9 million results returned since
launch in March 2009.
- African Climate (with the University of Cape Town): Improving
climate modelling designed to help African farmers with crops. Has
recently completed its data collection and research analysis will
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