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The Nanotechnology Consortium legacy

I am always  happy to see the strong innovation legacy of the Nanotechnology Consortium that I ran from 2004-2010 grow in the Materials Studio releases. The leading edge tools that the Consortium progressed from an academic code to a commercial release include ONETEP (linear scaling DFT), QMERA (coupled electronic-atomistic modelling) as well as the new GULP (atomistic modelling incl reactive forcefield) and DFTB+ (fast, tight binding based DFT). All have been further enhanced and by now are clearly a core part of the Dassault Systemès discrete modelling package. Particularly pleasing is the recent release of the reaction Kinetic Monte Carlo module Kinetix for the general public, about 10 years after it became available to Nanotechnology Consortium members. As other Reaction Kinetic MC tools have moved from academia to a wider industry use (see e.g. Zacros) it is clear that the Nanotech Consortium and all companies that supported it were leading the innovation. I am curious to see where the next wave of Dassault Systemès innovation in materials modelling is going to come from, as sadly the time of consortia seems to be over.

Gerhard Goldbeck

Business models and sustainability for materials modelling software

We recently published a White Paper on Materials Modelling Software Business. Key findings are:

  • A variety of business models are identified, mostly based on a hybrid software and services approach. Software sales as well as subscription licenses in combination with a range of services (from initial implementation to contract research) are the predominant revenue mix.
  • Services play a significant role, with income ranging from 20-80% in many cases. Target software to services ratio is in the range of 70-80 / 30-20. Services are not as scalable but a substantial amount seems required due to the complexity of the software and science.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) is still in its infancy in the materials modelling field. Ways of overcoming industry reservations with SaaS (e.g. security concerns) should be found since SaaS can greatly reduce software maintenance costs and provide a faster route for new features to get to users. Also, SaaS would help to reach small and medium enterprises.
  • New businesses developing services or SaaS based on proprietary software is somewhat hindered by the lack of business and licensing models between Software Owners and SaaS provider.
  • There is opportunity for Materials Modelling Marketplaces but also reservations in particular regarding customer relations.
  • Working closely with customers (via services and consortia etc.) is important to uncover why they are using your software and what it takes to retain them as well as to fund new developments.
  • Sustainability of software requires a change in education and better recognition of the persons in charge. Lifecycle of software requires substantial rethinking and a vision for the future as software’s age reaches decades.
  • It is important to engage with the academic community, find ways to make software engineering more exciting and bring in new standards to make software sustainable and maintainable.

The full White Paper is available via EMMC or Zenodo. The work was funded by the EU H2020 project EMMC-CSA, Grant Agreement No 723867.

Dassault Systèmes acquires COSMOlogic

The acquisition of COSMOlogic by Dassault Systèmes adds to the continuing integration of specialised providers of chemistry and materials modelling technologies into larger corporations. Other examples include the acquisition of QuantumWise by Synopsys and e-Xstream by MSC software. As the announcement states, COSMOlogic is about “Accurate Predictive Thermodynamics Modeling“. Why is this interesting for industry?

The design and optimisation of chemicals, materials and processes relies on reliable and robust property data for increasingly complex systems.  Predictive modelling creates value basically in two ways: support innovation by means of insights and deeper understanding and predict properties of chemicals and materials that are otherwise hard or costly to get. COSMOlogic offers in particular the latter: reliable, robust data that can be used to design and optimise systems such as chemical processes, as for example demonstrated in a case study on Identification of Solvents for Extractive Distillation.

In fact, similar arguments could be made for the other acquisition success stories. E-Xstream provides properties of composites at the detailed material level that are required to design and optimise manufacturing and products. QuantumWise enables not only insights but also advanced electronic material data required to in next generation TCAD. It will be interesting to see how integration story continues.

IntOp2018: EMMC Workshop on Marketplaces and Interoperability

Join peers from a wide range of backgrounds sharing an interest in materials digitalisation, from digital online marketplaces for materials modelling to interoperability and ontologies at IntOp2018, organised by the European Materials Modelling Council (EMMC) on 6-7 November in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

Materials Modelling Marketplaces are next generation systems integrating tangible and intangible materials model components to support enhanced innovation. These digital marketplace take advantage of recent advances in information technologies to establish online innovation platforms to explore, learn, and create advanced materials modelling solutions covering all models and domains.

Wider interoperability across models and data is key to enhanced integration, marketplace and digitalisation. It requires agreement based on ontologies for materials,  including characterisation, modelling, processing of materials as well as data, models and services.

The workshop will discuss the establishment of a digital single marketplace as innovation hub for the advancements of materials based industries. The workshop addresses both key technological and organisational human capital gaps. 

The EMMC is seeking support of the entire community for the establishment of common standards for access to all online materials modelling resources including data repositories of materials properties, online modelling workflows, translation, education and training services.

The workshop will also host a kickoff session for the International Materials Ontology Interest Group led by the EMMC.

For further details and registration, see the EMMC website.

Impacts of Materials Modelling Webinar

What is materials modelling good for?
This webinar examines the impact materials modelling makes, both on a macro-economic and organisational level. In particular, the wide range of impact types and mechanisms will be discussed, based on evidence from surveys and interviews with users. It will be argued that a much wider potential remit for modelling should be considered than is commonly done.

In the light of these impact mechanisms, ways of measuring and increasing impact are discussed. Setting and assessing impact levels is shown to be important, and in this context a maturity model will be introduced. Higher levels of maturity are associated with integration and optimisation and set the scene for modelling as a key factor impacting on digitalisation.

CEN Standard on Materials modelling – terminology, classification and metadata

The CEN (European Committee for Standardization) Workshop Agreement CWA 17284 “Materials modelling – terminology, classification and metadata”  described in an earlier post has been published. Here is the Abstract:

This CWA includes definitions of fundamental terms for the field of materials modelling and simulation. Computational materials models in this CWA are understood to be physics-based models. This CWA does not include data-based models. The definitions enable a classification of materials models. Using the entity and physics equation concepts, leads to a relatively small number of distinct materials models replacing the current situation of opacity of materials models and simulations that make the field hard to access for outsiders. This CWA also provides a systematic description and documentation of simulations including the user case, model, solver and post-processor: the “materials MOdelling DAta” (MODA). This document seeks to organize the information so that even complex simulation workflows can be conveyed more easily and key data about the models, solvers and post-processors and their implementation can be captured. A template MODA for physics-based models is described in order to guide users towards a complete documentation of material and process simulations. The CWA is based on the Review of Materials Modelling (RoMM). A MODA for data-based models can be found in the RoMM.

This document provides the basis for moving the materials modelling field up the semantic spectrum, laying the foundation for knowledge organisation achieved in many other fields (see e.g. the Osthus presentation “From Big Data to Big Analysis” given at the EMMC Workshop on Interoperability in Materials Modelling). It lays the foundation for developing and ontology of materials modelling, enabling interoperability, reasoning and knowledge extraction in the materials science domain.

CEN Workshop on materials modelling terminology, classification and metadata

Following the proposal by a group of European scientists involved in materials modelling CEN (the European Committee for Standardization) has announced a new workshop on the subject “Materials modelling terminology, classification and metadata”. It is based on many years of effort led by the European Commission and the European Materials Modelling Council (EMMC), as expressed in the Review of Materials Modelling (RoMM), which will be released in its sixth edition in January 2017. The aim is to agree on a terminology and classification of materials models and organise the description of materials modelling applications based on a system referred to as MODA (Materials Modelling Data). A common terminology in materials modelling should lead to simplified and much more efficient communication and lower the barrier to utilising materials modelling. The end result is the adoption of a CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA), a best practices document for further standardisation efforts and input for the development of a future certification scheme.