Optalysys technology will underpin next-generation weather forecasting in a €4m project led by the ECMWF

storm clouds

Cambridge UK optical processing business Optalysys Ltd, has announced that it is part of a major collaboration project known as ESCAPE, led by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and involving 10 other organisations.

The European Commission has favourably evaluated the proposal for ESCAPE for a €4m grant through its Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. The grant is subject to final confirmation by the Commission expected at the end of June 2015.

The aim of ESCAPE (Energy-efficient Scalable Algorithms for Weather Prediction at Exascale) is to develop world-class, extreme-scale computing capabilities for European operational numerical weather prediction (NWP). It will do this by defining fundamental algorithm building blocks to run the next generation of NWP on energy-efficient, heterogeneous HPC architectures. The project will pair world-leading NWP with innovative HPC solutions, fostering economic growth, EU business competitiveness and job creation.

NWP has been intimately connected with progress in supercomputing since the first numerical forecast was made about 65 years ago. But supercomputers are power-hungry and, with their current architectures, it will soon be impossible to deliver the required performance at a reasonable cost. Future, more energy-efficient systems with exascale capabilities (performing at least a billion billion calculations per second) will rely on parallel processing at levels to which current NWP codes are not adapted. There is therefore a need to make NWP processes and algorithms scalable so that they will work efficiently on tomorrow’s high-performance facilities.

Nick New, Optalysys’ CEO said, “We are delighted to be part of ESCAPE and look forward to playing our part in transforming weather prediction and climate modelling using world-class, extreme-scale computing capabilities. We are excited to be partners with the ECMWF, the world leader in global NWP together with leading European regional forecasting organisations, excellent research centres and world-leading hardware companies.”

Peter Bauer, Head of the Model Division at the ECMWF adds “ESCAPE will help us to continue to improve our forecasts while moving towards more energy-efficient, highly parallel supercomputers. At a time when climate change brings a growing risk of severe weather events and decision-makers increasingly rely on extended forecasting capabilities, our codes and algorithms must be adapted to work efficiently on tomorrow’s computer systems. We are delighted to be collaborating with Optalysys Ltd, which will bring its expertise in innovative optical processing technology to the project.”

Other members of ESCAPE include Meteo-France, Institut Royal Meteorologique de Belgique, Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut, Eidgenoessisches Departement des Innern, Deutscher Wetterdienst, Loughborough University, National University of Ireland Galway, Instytut Chemii Bioorganicznej Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Bull SAS and AGEIA Technologies Switzerland AG.

A short film explaining the revolutionary Optalysys technology, narrated by Professor Heinz Wolff, is available to view here.

For more information, visit

For the ECMWF press release on Project ESCAPE click here.

Notes to editors:

About Optalysys:

Optalysys was founded in 2013.  CEO Dr Nick New, a renowned world expert in optical pattern recognition, developed the forerunner to the Optalysys technology whilst carrying out his PhD on optical pattern recognition at Cambridge University. Dr New went on to forge relationships with international academic and commercial institutions, including NASA, MBDA and British Aerospace before securing funding to take Optalysys forward.

Optalysys Chairman James Duez is a respected business and technology innovator who has pioneered several award-winning technologies. James has worked extensively with Global 250 organisations and government departments.

The Optalysys team includes specialists in software development, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), free-space optics, optical engineering and production engineering.

The company has several patents covering its groundbreaking technology.

Find out more at

© 2015 Optalysys Ltd. All rights reserved



ECMWF is an intergovernmental organisation supported by 34 European States. It provides weather services with medium-range forecasts of global weather to 15 days ahead as well as with monthly and seasonal forecasts. ECMWF’s computer system at its headquarters in Reading, United Kingdom, is one of the largest for meteorology worldwide and contains the world’s largest archive of numerical weather prediction data. It runs a sophisticated medium-range prediction model of the global atmosphere and oceans. The National Meteorological Services of Member States and Co-operating States use ECMWF’s products for their own national duties, in particular to give early warning of potentially damaging severe weather.

Find out more at

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