What do they do? (Part 5)

5 examples of what EU research and innovation projects have done for you lately

Check your email, save the world

With technology advancing at an increasingly rapid pace, personal computers which stand idle can be seen as a wasted resource. One successful project has sought to harness this untapped computing power to make money for charities.

Charity Engine allows people to download software which connects them to a network of other personal computers as part of a ‘virtual supercomputer’. The software is free and only runs on spare computing capacity, such as when your computer is idle.

Since commercialising from its early days as an EU funded project, it now has more than 550,000 active PCs and is growing by about 20,000 PCs a week. The Charity Engine global grid is already more powerful than the world’s 5th fastest supercomputer and on target to top this list.

Its supercomputing power is lent to whoever pays, and so it works on a variety of scientific and commercial tasks. Revenue is split three ways: The charity, the system’s maintenance, and a prize for people who sign their computers up. When there is slack in demand, Charity Engine works on existing scientific projects for free.

 According to founder Mark McAndrew: “Our company would not have survived the development phase without [the EU]…For us, the EU was literally the difference between success and failure.”


How the Charity Engine works