The HECToR Service is now closed and has been superceded by ARCHER.

Distributed CSE Support

Scope of Distributed CSE Support

The aim of distributed CSE (dCSE) support is to enable software development to increase code performance and/or utility on computing facilities, and hence deliver further science. With a distributed CSE award you will receive support to improve the capability of your code on HECToR. The aim of the award is to provide the researcher with funding to enable them to employ specialist help to:

  • port their codes onto HECToR, in particular to work with new codes or to enable previously unsupported features in existing codes;
  • improve the performance of their codes on HECToR;
  • re-factor their codes to improve long-term maintainability;
  • take advantage of algorithmic improvements in the field of high-performance computing.

The award is to be used entirely for software development in order to increase code performance and/or utility, and hence to deliver further science. It does not cover scientific research. It does, however, allow the implementation of improved algorithms or methodologies if they have been proven to perform better than existing ones, for example the replacement of a spectral method by a finite difference algorithm. It can also be used to extend existing codes to solve more complex or general cases of the problems that they address; this should essentially be an implementation exercise with a high probability of success.

The award is not a research grant as it is provided through NAG under contract from EPSRC. Contracts awarded at this round should run over a maximum of 10 chronological months in duration. The minimum effort will be for 1 person working on a 3 month project. The project can be run part time alongside other work. Immediate, short term assistance to address issues encountered while porting codes or when working on HECToR can be obtained through the core CSE team via the [Email address deleted].

There is a great deal of flexibility with how NAG is prepared to employ or contract the specialist doing the dCSE work. They do not have to be from the NAG CSE team e.g. if there is someone else available who would be particularly suited to the work. As such, it is possible for the PI of the dCSE to source the appropriate person from their own institution, or from another member of a scientific consortium if the expertise already exists. As a consequence it is possible for the person holding the dCSE position to be employed directly by NAG, by the PI's host institution under contract from NAG, or by a third party (recommended by the PI in agreement with NAG).

For the duration of the Distributed CSE award the support staff funded by the award will be part of the CSE team and are expected to be an active part of the CSE team; this includes participating in bi-directional knowledge transfer with other dCSE staff and the core CSE team at NAG. The support staff chosen for the dCSE project will receive full support and training from NAG in order to help them achieve the individual performance targets agreed between NAG and the dCSE PI.

The contract awarded by NAG will cover staff time only. Where the support staff position is an employee of a third party, the contract will cover direct employment costs and provide a contribution towards the indirect costs. Other expenses, such as for travel will be met directly by the CSE team. The Allocation Units (AUs) on HECToR needed to carry out the project should come from the applicant's existing grant, however if any additional AUs are required, the applicant should contact the [Email address deleted].

Please note that an award of dCSE support does not constitute a Research Council grant. As such, NAG will not be funding this program of support under the Full Economic Costs model.

Applying for Distributed CSE Support

Further details are on how to apply. For more help and information please see the dCSE FAQ section.


All ongoing projects are discussed at each panel meeting. Regular reports are a requirement of the award and failure to submit them may lead to funding being withdrawn. For details of completed Distributed CSE Support projects please see the reports section. For a list of individual projects that are under contract and/or underway please see here.


HECToR Distributed CSE support is only available to groups or individuals supported by EPSRC, NERC or BBSRC (the Research Councils funding HECToR). Applicants should either be existing HECToR users, or have been invited to apply by EPSRC, NERC or BBSRC (note that an invitation to apply does not in any way influence the assessment process). Users may apply as individuals or as consortia. Potential applicants who are not HECToR users should, in the first instance, discuss their application with the contact for the appropriate research council:

EPSRC:Daniel Emmerson ( NERC:Frances Collingborn ( BBSRC:Jef Grainger (

Review Process

Applications for HECToR dCSE will be assessed by an independent panel of invited experts. They will have to identify the value that providing extra CSE support to a project will bring to it, and then allocate the available support in the most effective manner. The panel will not review the scientific merit of the proposals, this will be assumed from the Research Council's award of funding and necessary machine time. Successful dCSE applicants will be contacted by NAG in order to discuss the contractual details and funding options. Feedback from the panel will be provided to all applicants.

Intellectual Property

As part of NAG's contract with EPSRC to carry out HECToR CSE Services, NAG is required to retain all rights to the work carried out under a dCSE contract on behalf of the Research Councils. This position has been taken to ensure that that any intellectual property generated from an award can be licensed to other HECToR users and more broadly if required by the UK Research Councils and thus ensure any advances are kept within the public realm. However, NAG will automatically grant the Contractor and the PI a non-exclusive license to re-use all such rights. For the avoidance of doubt, where the programme of work involves changes to existing software, NAG only requires rights to the modifications themselves (i.e. the dCSE contribution), not to the modified software in its entirety. NAG's grant of rights back to the Contractor/PI therefore allows the modifications to be included into existing software without restriction, including releasing the modified software under a suitable software licence.

Further information

The HECToR CSE support team can be contacted at, or via the HECToR Help Desk.