Italian Research Center on HPC, Big Data and Quantum Computing

The biggest Italian network for development and innovation in the field of high-performance computing, simulation and high-performance data analytics

The Italian Research Center on HPC, Big Data and Quantum Computing is one of the five national centres dedicated to strategic areas for the development of Italy envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). Proposed by the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and managed by the ICSC Foundation – which in turn has 51 founder members from the public and private sectors, from the world of industry and scientific research, distributed across Italy – it has an essential role to play in fostering the competitiveness, innovation and growth of Italy and Europe.

Context and location

The National Centre was created to meet the key goal – for institutions, for the research sector, for players in the worlds of industry and manufacturing – of developing technological infrastructure capable of archiving, organising, sharing, processing and analysing big data. High-performance computing, numerical simulations and the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning models are in fact essential tools for the realisation of any innovation strategy in the scientific, social and economics fields. It is also for this reason that the National Centre for Research into HPC, Big Data and Quantum Computing forms part of the research and innovation ecosystem of the Bologna Technopole, which also hosts the Data Centre of the European Weather Centre (ECMWF), the Data Centre of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics and the “Leonardo” supercomputer managed by CINECA.

Activities and goals

The activities of the National Centre will prioritise innovation in the field of simulation, calculation and high-performance data analysis with two specific focus areas: maintaining and strengthening Italian HPC and big data infrastructure; the development of methods, applications, models, software and tools to integrate the calculation, simulation, collection and analysis of data of interest to the research sector and the manufacturing and social spheres. Promoting and supporting the best interdisciplinary initiatives and expertise, the National Centre is a fundamental institution for the realisation of key projects in the fields of computational and experimental sciences for the climate, the environment, space, the study of matter, medicine, materials, and much more besides.
The National Centre has adopted a “Hub & Spoke” organisational model to carry out its projects: more specifically, the Hub will be responsible for validating and managing the research programmes, whose activities will be planned and carried out by the Spokes and their affiliated bodies. Ten Spokes have been identified, each of which will oversee its own research and development area:

  • Future HPC & Big Data
  • Fundamental Research & Space Economy
  • Astrophysics & Cosmos Observations
  • Earth & Climate
  • Environment & Natural Disasters
  • Multiscale Modelling & Engineering Applications
  • Materials & Molecular Sciences
  • In-Silico Medicine & Omics Data
  • Digital Society & Smart Cities
  • Quantum Computing

Ultimately, the National Research Centre will carry out its activities with the aiming of meeting three main goals:

  • the creation of Italian technological infrastructure specifically geared to high-performance computing;
  • the creation of synergies aimed at aggregating resources for research and innovation in the most strategic sectors for the country;
  • the consolidation of its central role in national, European and international development scenarios and in supporting the most important scientific and industrial initiatives in Italy and the world.

The role of IFAB

Within the ecosystem of innovation and research represented by the National Centre for Research into HPC, Big Data and Quantum Computing, IFAB performs a role of primary importance, forging, facilitating and consolidating connections and synergies between these places and the world of Italian SMEs. By joining the Foundation’s membership programme, companies and business ventures can access the key networks and expertise to define growth and development strategies based on technology and infrastructure connected with the world of big data, artificial intelligence and Machine Learning, and high-performance computing.
IFAB also creates and manages the Observatory on trends and applications of supercomputing, a branch of the National Research Center in HPC, Big Data, and Quantum Computing. The Observatory aims to map and disseminate the main technological innovations, building shared knowledge about the achievements and future scenarios, not only among professionals but open to the entire society.


The members of the ICSC Foundation are as follows: National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), CINECA, GARR, National Research Council (CNR), National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Italian Technology Institute (IIT), Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC), Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK), National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), Centre for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia (CRS4), National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS), University of Bologna, University of Ferrara, University of Bari, University of Milano Bicocca, Sapienza University of Rome, University of Rome Tor Vergata, University of Trieste, University of Padua, University of Pavia, University of Trento, University of Turin, University of L’Aquila, Federico II University of Naples, University of Pisa, University of Florence, University of Catania, University of Calabria, University of Salento, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, University of Parma, Bari Polytechnic, Milan Polytechnic, Turin Polytechnic, SNS Scuola Normale Superiore, SISSA International School for Advanced Studies, Autostrade per l’Italia, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, Eni, Ferrovie dello Stato, Fincantieri, Fondazione Innovazione Urbana, IRCCS Istituto Clinico Humanitas, IFAB International Foundation Big Data and Artificial Intelligence for Human Development, Intesa Sanpaolo, Leonardo, SOGEI, Thales Alenia Space Italia, Terna, UnipolSai Assicurazioni.


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