Jeremy Sharp (Jisc), Mark Clayton ( TheBigWord), Adam Beaumont ( aql), Ben Carter (aql), Mark Fordyc
Nick Hill

aql’s new datacentre to make Leeds 'a hub for digital development in the North'

Aql, the Leeds-headquarters of integrated telecommunications and data services firm, is supercharging businesses around the city due to its new datacentre.

Located at a secure location on the South Bank of Leeds, the new datacentre was officially opened by Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy MP.

As well as representing a major investment in the digital infrastructure that will power the future growth of the city of Leeds, the facility was designed to support the high security processing and storing of ‘big data’ for sensitive applications such as health informatics.

As well as opening the new specialist facility, aql has also won the contract to serve the UK’s Universities, Colleges and Teaching Hospitals via a framework contract operated by Jisc.

Jisc is a not-for-profit organisation which operates the multi-terabit ‘Janet’ network used by all universities, colleges and teaching hospitals.

aql was chosen due to its ability to meet the needs of the academic community, its future-facing green energy plan, the assurances it was able to offer around data security and also the company’s ability to support high-power supercomputing.

The University of Leeds is one of the first tenants of the new facility.

Adam Beaumont, founder and chief executive of aql, said: “Big data storage is a growing requirement for the academic community as part of University-Business research projects, so we plan to continue our investment in the city and build further facilities, as needed by Jisc and our UK academic tenants.”

The new datacentre is also designed to play an important role in Leeds’ green energy future by recycling its waste heat.

Adam added: “More locally, we’re also able to interface our datacentres with the newly-planned district heating system in Leeds, so we can donate what will be megawatts of waste heat back to the city.

“My academic background is thermodynamics, so it’s really rewarding for me to put this to work again. I’d really like to use some of this heat for civic purposes, for example, to create an outdoor heated pool in the heart of the new south bank.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy MP officially opened the new facility on 8th December and said: “Our Northern Powerhouse Strategy sets out how we will make the North an even greater place for enterprise and innovation, with digital technology playing a key part.

“That’s why we’re supporting this new datacentre which will make Leeds a hub for digital development in the North, providing data storage for universities, businesses and millions of users across the UK.”

Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP, also commented: “The Northern Powerhouse Partnership’s first report identified the provision of high speed broadband as a critical priority for the region.

“Businesses and universities from across the North were clear - if the Northern Powerhouse is to compete with similar regions in the UK and across Europe then its internet infrastructure must be super-charged.

“I welcome aql’s ongoing investment into Leeds and the vital role the new datacentre will play in assisting academic institutions to benefit from faster, more reliable connections and also its contribution to the city’s renewable energy commitment.”

One of the leading northern facilities in big data research is based in Leeds and will be supported by the datacentre’s opening. The Leeds Institute of Data Analytics (LIDA) is run by the University of Leeds and its director of research is Professor Sir Alex Markham.

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