The Vision

The idea behind CLIMB and CLIMB-BIG-DATA was to bring bioinformatics capability (computing power, storage and analysis tools) to microbiologists working in UK academia.  With improvements in next-generation sequencing technologies generating genomic data sets has become easier. Many academics don’t have the access to the resources that they need to perform the required bioinformatics analysis.  CLIMB-BIG-DATA will provide this resource. It will also be a place for researchers to share scripts and pipelines.

The vision also included holding workshops and meetings to train, share knowledge and develop the microbial bioinformatics community.

To deliver this vision alongside the investigators, three world-class research fellows have been appointed to the project. Two purpose-built training centres have also been built.


Antimicrobial Resistance

Emerging Infectious Disease and Global Health

Microbial Genomics for Public Health

Microbial communities, metagenomics

Pathogen Biology and Functional Genomics

Bioinformatics Pipelines


The Cloud

The four universities each have the same equipment installed, which will work as in integrated system allowing for redundancy. The end user when dialling up one of the 1000 available virtual machines will not necessarily know which site they are using.  The system offers huge data storage capabilities, very high-memory research servers for maximum performance and integration with relevant biological databases.

Project Timeline: Key Milestones

The CLIMB project officially began on 01 April 2014. The first year focussed on the procurement and installation of the computer equipment, and also the refurbishment at Warwick and Swansea to create two new bioinformatics training centres for CLIMB. The next stage of the project focussed on implementing the software (Openstack) for creating a cloud, enabling the virtual machines to communicate with the platform’s storage and integrating the four sites. Testing of the system by selected users was the next key part of the project.

CLIMB officially launched to UK academia in July 2016, with a two-day launch event at Warwick University.

In April 2020 we launched CLIMB successor: CLIMB-BIG-DATA, an ambitious 5-year initiative to deliver a cutting-edge scalable and dynamic bioinformatics platform to support academic research groups, government agencies and health service facing the challenge of big data in modern microbiology.

CLIMB-BIG-DATA benefits from a £2Million grant from the UKRI (MRC grant ref. MR/T030062/1), and will gradually become self-sustaining.

2020     Oct                 First CLIMB-BIG-DATA online workshop

2020     Jul                  Infrastructure has been improved in Cardiff

2020     Apr                CLIMB-BIG-DATA begins!

2020     Mar                CLIMB provides computing resources to COG-UK consortium

2019     Dec                 Over 160 papers have acknowledged CLIMB so far

2019     May                Over 3,500 VMs launched so far

2018     Nov                CLIMB is actively used by more than 850 users

2018     May                Over 250 groups in the UK are actively using CLIMB

2017     Nov                CLIMB wins twice at 2017 HPCwire Readers’ Choice Awards

2017     Feb                 Over 1,000 VMs launched so far

2016     Dec                 Over 100 groups in the UK are signed up to use CLIMB

2016     Sep                 CLIMB paper

2016     Jul                   Official CLIMB launch

2015     Jun                  Warwick node available to pre-selected users

2015     Jan                  Initial configuration

2014     Nov                 Vendor selection made for the remaining three sites

2014     Aug                 OpenStack installed on Birmingham test node

2014     Jul                   Initial delivery of hardware at Birmingham

2014     Jun                  IBM and OCF chosen as vendors for Birmingham pilot

2014     Apr                  CLIMB begins!