On 20 July 2006 the Flemish Government decided on the action plan 'Flanders i2010, time for a digital momentum in the innovation chain'. A study made by the steering committee e-Research, published in November 2007, indicated the need for more expertise, support and infrastructure for grid and High Performance Computing.

Around the same time, the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) published an advisory illustrating the need for a dynamic High Performance Computing strategy for Flanders. This recommendation focused on a Flemish Supercomputer Center with the ability to compete with existing infrastructures at regional or national level in comparable countries.

Based on these recommendations, the Flemish Government decided on 14 December 2007 to fund the Flemish Supercomputer Center, an initiative of five Flemish universities. They joined forces to coordinate and to integrate their High Performance Computing infrastructures and to make their knowledge available to the public and for privately funded research.

The grants were used to fund both capital expenditures and staff. As a result the existing university infrastructure was integrated through fast network connections and additional software. Thus, the pyramid model, recommended by PRACE, is applied. According to this model a central Tier-1 cluster is responsible for rolling out large parallel computing jobs. Tier-2 focuses on local use at various universities but is also open to other users. Hasselt University decided to collaborate with the University of Leuven to build a shared infrastructure while other universities opted to do it alone.

Some milestones

  • January 2008: Start of the "VSC preparatory phase" project
  • May 2008: The VSC submitted a first proposal for further funding to the Hercules Foundation
  • November 2008: A technical and financial plan was presented to the Flemish Government. In the following weeks this plan was successfully defended before a committee of international experts.
  • 23 March 2009: Official launch of the VSC at an event with researchers presenting their work in the presence of Patricia Ceysens, Flemish Minister for Economy, Enterprise, Science, Innovation and Foreign Trade. Several speakers highlighted the history of the project together with VSC’s mission and the international aspect of this project.
  • 3 April 2009: the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government provided a grant of 7.29 million euros (2.09 million by the Hercules Foundation and 5.2 million from the FFEU (1) for the further expansion of the local Tier-2 clusters and the installation of a central Tier-1 supercomputer for Flanders for large parallel computations. It was also decided to entrust the project monitoring to a supervisory committee for which the Hercules Foundation provides the secretariat.
  • June 2009: The VSC submitted a project proposal to the Hercules Foundation to participate through PRACE, the ESFRI(2) project in the field of supercomputing. After comparison with other projects, the Hercules Foundation granted it the second highest priority and advised the Flemish government as such. The Flemish Government supported the project, and after consultation with other regions and communities and federal authorities, Belgium joined PRACE in October 2012.
  • February 2010: The VSC submitted an updated operating plan to the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government aiming to obtain structural funding for the VSC.
  • 9 October 2012: Belgium became the twenty-fifth member of PRACE. The Belgian delegation was made up of DG06 from the Walloon Government and a technical advisor from VSC.
  • 25 October 2012: The first VSC Tier-1 cluster was inaugurated at Ghent University. In the spring of 2012 the installation of this cluster in the new data center at Ghent University campus took place. In a video message Minister Ingrid Lieten encouraged researchers to make optimum use of the new opportunities to drive research forward.
  • 16 January 2014: the first global VSC User Day. This event brought together researchers from different universities and the industry.
  • 27 January 2015: The first VSC industry day at Technopolis in Mechelen. One of the points on the agenda was to investigate how other companies abroad - in Germany and the United Kingdom – were being approached. Several examples of companies in Flanders already using VSC infrastructure were illustrated. Philippe Muyters, Flemish Minister for Economy and Innovation, closed the event with an appeal for stronger links between the public and private sector to strengthen Flemish competitiveness.
  • 1 January 2016: The Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) takes over the tasks of the Hercules Foundation in the VSC project in a restructuring of the research funding in Flanders.

(1) FFEU: Financieringsfonds voor Schuldafbouw en Eenmalige investeringsuitgaven (Financing fund for debt reduction and one-time investment)
(2) ESFRI: European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures