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IBM Award for Innovative Solution to Tackling World's Most Critical Social and Environmental Problems

LONDON, July 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) was awarded the prestigious Coffey International Award for its application of technical expertise in innovative ways to address the greatest societal challenges of our time at the annual Business in the Community (BITC) Awards for Excellence yesterday.

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IBM earned the award for World Community Grid, in essence the virtual equivalent in processing power to a Top 10 supercomputer devoted to humanitarian research. World Community Grid gains its power from the aggregated spare computing capacity of 1.3 million PCs belonging to 460,000 volunteers from over 200 countries. For participating members, some with perhaps limited time for volunteering, it provides the opportunity through the World Community Grid to make a significant contribution to tackling the Millennium Development Goals.

The Award was presented to Larry Hirst, Chairman IBM Europe Middle East Africa, by HRH The Prince of Wales, President of BITC, at a garden party reception hosted by The Prince at his home, Clarence House.

Charles Duff, Corporate Development Manager, Coffey International Limited and Chair of judges said: "The scale, significance, power and potential of World Community Grid is impressive. IBM has collaborated with a wide spectrum of research partners and encouraged businesses, community groups and individuals to provide free computational capacity to support international humanitarian projects. The judges salute IBM's programme and hope that the recognition conferred by this award will encourage individuals everywhere to join with IBM so that more research can be completed even faster as part of this exciting, inspiring and innovative development initiative. We also challenge the business world at large to sign up to World Community Grid and help grow its potential to achieve even greater impact on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the world's most pressing needs."

World Community Grid is a powerful example of IBM's recently announced smarter planet vision in which systems from utility grids to healthcare can be made to work better, as a result of increased data, interconnected networks and greater embedded intelligence.

According to Larry Hirst of IBM, "A lot of important scientific research isn't happening. It lacks the funding for the supercomputing capacity that is needed to execute large and complex calculations. World Community Grid changes the rules. It's free and available to both public and not for profit organizations for use in humanitarian research that might not otherwise be performed."

He continues, "The Grid is about large scale volunteerism -- utilizing an individual's unused computer capacity to address scientific problems -- and in doing so accelerates research breakthroughs that underpin the Millennium Development Goals. This helps to make the world a smarter, better place. At IBM we appreciate winning the BITC Coffey International Award, and it is my hope that through the award awareness will be increased, more people will join the grid, and more scientists will submit research proposals."

World Community Grid works when an individual's computer is on but not in active use. It performs a small piece of complex scientific research, receiving and returning the results via World Community Grid. There is no need to leave an idle computer turned on, but while it's active and a user takes a break for even a few seconds, World Community Grid harnesses the spare capacity. The accumulation of the idle time in short spurts from millions of computers is the equivalent of one of the world's top 10 supercomputers.

World Community Grid is operated by IBM and provided for free to support not-for-profit humanitarian research projects. In total 14 projects are currently running or have completed their computational phase, involving teams of scientists from 35 research centres in six countries. Projects cover three big topics of Nutrition - Disease - Environment. These projects are contributing to five of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

IBM's investment in World Community Grid has provided research scientists with over 252,000 years of computer run-time at no cost, and delivered over 290 million research results since 2004. It enables research which would not otherwise be possible because of the time it would take for the calculations to run on the scientist's own computers. As a result scientists can focus on clinical work to develop the real world applications as opposed to IT, and by significantly accelerating research, develop new approaches and move more quickly into subsequent phases of testing.

More than 400 organizations are official partners of the WCG, and many thousands more teams have formed through the site. World Community Grid provides public and community organizations such as UNICEF, United Way and Aids Action Committee with a resource to generate public awareness and engagement around their own key issues. It also provides commercial organizations with another means for them and their employees to contribute to a variety of social issues. Organizations such as BankInter, Serco and Ogilvy are partners on the Grid.

For individuals, World Community Grid helps translate interest into awareness and engagement and promotes volunteerism. This collaborative technology enables people to contribute, altruistically or for deeper personal reasons. This is evidenced by the 200-250 new members who join each day, and by the level of dialogue IBM sees in this online community.

World Community Grid exemplifies how the application of IBM's leading edge technology and expertise delivers exceptional value. It epitomizes one of IBM's three values: "Innovation that matters for our company and the world."

To find out more, or to volunteer your computer go to

Notes to editors

Details of major projects to date:

  • Fight AIDS@Home (with The Scripps Research Institute): identified over 40 potential drug candidates in 6 months instead of 5 years. Scientists are now proceeding with laboratory work to develop new drugs.
  • Discovering Dengue Drugs - Together (with The University of Texas Medical Branch and the University of Chicago): identified new potential compounds and are now proceeding with laboratory work.
  • Nutritious Rice (with University of Washington): identifying rice strains with potential to provide better yields, adapt to climatic changes and improve disease and pest resistance - 15 million results returned since launch in May 2008.
  • Help Defeat Cancer (with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School): helped prove the scientists' more accurate technique for identifying cancer and won a competitive $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further deploy its system.
  • The Clean Energy Project (with Harvard University): discovering materials to create a more efficient and lower cost solar cell - 1.1 million results returned since launch in December 2008.
  • Help Fight Childhood Cancer (with Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute and Chiba University in Japan): discovering drug treatments for neuroblastoma, the most common cause of death in children with solid tumors - 4.9 million results returned since launch in March 2009.
  • African Climate (with the University of Cape Town): Improving climate modeling designed to help African farmers with crops. Has recently completed its data collection and research analysis will now begin.

    Joe Hanley
    IBM Communications
    Off:  +44 (0)20 8844 6972
    Mob:  +44 (0)78 0350 2318

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