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INFER project seeks smart software solution

Tony Rozwadowski, Bogdan Gabrys and Reinhard Dudda celebrate the launch of INFER.

University research centre launches 1.5Million Euro project to create predictive systems for the process industry.

The Smart Technology Research Centre at Bournemouth University has launched a new and exciting research project called INFER - computational INtelligence platform For Evolving and Robust predictive systems.

INFER is a major EU-funded project involving around 30 researchers from organisations in three different countries. Partners include Evonik Industries from Germany, one of the world's leading companies in the process industry and Research & Engineering Centre (REC) from Poland, a highly innovative software engineering company. The University’s Smart Technology Research Centre is an interdisciplinary and integrative centre conducting research in the field of automated intelligent technologies.

The 1.55 Million Euro project is funded by the European Commission within the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships & Pathways (IAPP) programme and will run from July 2010 until June 2014. Through extended secondments, the project will offer 23 researchers the possibility to move sector and country in order to provide, absorb and implement new knowledge in a professional industrial-academic environment.

INFER will focus on pervasively adaptive software systems for the development of an open modular platform applicable in various commercial settings and industries. The main innovation of the project is a novel type of environment in which the “fittest” predictive model will emerge - either autonomously or by user high-level goal-related assistance and feedback. Such system is beneficial for businesses relying on accurate predictions of any type and, at the same time, requiring an automated ability to react and adjust to changes in market, behaviour or operational conditions.

“This is a major project for Bournemouth University and the School of Design, Engineering & Computing,” said Professor Bogdan Gabrys, the Coordinator of the project and the Director of the BU-based Smart Technology Research Centre. “It is very exciting as we promote a paradigm shift from human labour and knowledge intensive processes of building predictive systems to autonomous, evolving complex systems.”

“This project is dedicated to that principle,” Professor Gabrys continued. “The INFER project takes a novel approach to applying intelligent methods: a combination of modern software, systems and knowledge engineering, together with application experience of the process industry. This will enable development of an effective platform for predictive systems that is easily applicable not only in process, but in many other industries.”

In addition to the major benefits anticipated for industry, Professor Gabrys foresees the project as benefitting his academic colleagues at BU as well as the University’s students. “Our staff will spend extended periods in Germany and Poland over the coming years as we transfer and share our knowledge and experiences with staff from both of our prestigious partners,” Professor Gabrys concluded. “We also have the potential to produce a commercial spin-out by developing effective software product and commercialising our research in the area of predictive analytics.”

“I am sure INFER can help us a lot to fulfill the aims we have helping our internal customers," remarks Reinhard Dudda, the leader of the Quality Engineering group in the Process Technology & Engineering Service Unit and the INFER application leader. “Evonik supports its customers with professional services that cover the entire bandwidth of engineering, from the first project idea to the completion of complex investment projects. The Process Technology & Engineering Service Unit has many years of experience in international facility construction and offers its customers outstanding value thanks to a combination of expertise in process technology and engineering, transparent project management, and dedicated employees.”

“REC is delighted to have been selected by BU and Evonik Industries to participate in this important European Union funded research project” said Tony Rozwadowski, Director of Research & Engineering Center. “We view it as a major opportunity to be at the heart of this research and will give our participating employees insight into new areas of technology and industry. They will also have the opportunity to enhance their personal skills and then be able to transfer this knowledge back to colleagues on their return”, Mr Rozwadowski added.

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