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CREATE Trusted Research Environment

What is a Trusted Research Environment?

Trusted Research Environments (TREs) provide highly secure computing environments that enable approved researchers to access sensitive datasets. Also known as 'Data Safe Havens' or 'Secure Data Environments', TREs are the emerging standard for processing sensitive datasets in particular those coming from the NHS.

CREATE TRE Current Status

CREATE TRE is currently in the the early stages of its development. In January 2023 we launched two pilot projects within our TRE, which included secure data storage, secure data transfer, a locked environment with no data egress or internet access, and pre-installed software for researchers (Excel, Python, R, RStudio, SPSS, Stata, Word).

Since then we continue to improve the security and functionality. For example the process allowing egress of non-sensitive research outputs outside of the environment.

The pilot TRE provides a Windows based virtual desktop environment. We will soon launch the Linux virtual desktop equivalent. Later this year we will be working on HPC (i.e. multi-node) TRE environments.

We remain committed to maintaining the highest levels of security and functionality within our TRE and will continue to implement improvements and updates to ensure that we provide the best possible environment across a very broad range of use cases.


We are currently developing our roadmap for project onboarding to run from now throughout 2023 and beyond. If you are interested in getting added to the pipeline please contact: (e-Research TRE Lead)

We expect TRE demand to be exceptionally high so there may be long waits between project registration and our ability to onboard.


Our charging model for TRE access is currently based on the underlying costs of compute and storage.

The following table provides small, medium and large sizings along with annual costs per funding source for use in grant proposals.

Size vCPU Memory Data storage VM disk storage UKRI (e.g. EPSRC, NIHR) Charity (e.g. Wellcome, CRUK) European Commision
Small Up to 40 Up to 40GB Up to 1TB Up to 400GB £1,241.52 £5,070 £4,392.88
Medium Up to 60 Up to 60GB Up to 1TB Up to 600GB £1,635.12 £6,660 £5,771.28
Large Up to 100 Up to 100GB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB £2,422.32 £9,840 £8,528.08

Additional data storage

For data storage above 1TB, each additional TB of quota should be costed at £100/TB/annum.

GPUs and large scale compute

If your TRE project requires access to GPUs or a large number of CPU cores we will need to purchase a dedicated server(s) for your project.

To calculate the cost for your grant you should include the cost below which will provide the baseline TRE supporting infrastructure and up to 1TB data storage and 1TB VM disk storage.

UKRI (e.g. EPSRC, NIHR) Charity (e.g. Wellcome, CRUK) European Commision
£654.32 £2,090 £1,836.08

In addition to this, based on your computational requirements, you should choose the server price(s) from your price list.


Although our TRE is in the early stages of development, we have made significant progress in designing and implementing the core elements of our secure environment.

TRE key components:

  • Users log in to the e-Research portal using Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Users need to be a member of one or more security groups to access the TRE, the 4 security groups are:
    • Standard user:
      • Access to the TRE project Virtual Desktop machines (VMs)
      • Read-only access to the project dataset directories
    • Data manager user (in addition to above):
      • Have full access to dataset directories
    • Data ingress user:
      • Allowed to import data to the TRE project
    • Data egress user:
      • Allowed to export data from the TRE project
      • Data egress details are logged for audit purposes and users with egress access must be trained to appropriately classify and approve data for egress
  • Connection to the TRE web portal is encrypted (HTTPS)
  • The portal web server then makes an encrypted (RDP) connection to the TRE project VMs (Virtual Machine)
  • A private OpenStack cloud contains the TRE project elements:
    • Researchers VMs (contain pre-installed software and access to the project dataset)
    • Data mover VMs (dedicated to input and output TRE data by project’s nominated data ingress/egress users)
    • SMB server (stores encrypted TRE project dataset and user/project data, backed up outside the environment)
    • Security Groups control egress and ingress traffic to the TRE environment
    • No Internet access from the project VMs
  • Proxy server (to control ingress/egress from TRE projects)

TRE Environment Diagram (subject to change)

graph TB
A(<font color=white>Data host)
A1(<font color=white>Data host)
a(<font color=white>Project data mover filtering)
a1(<font color=white>Project data mover filtering)
B(<font color=white>Data movers)
b(<font color=white>Data movers)
F(Data storage)
f(Data storage)
G(<font color=white>Verified TRE Project Researchers)
I((<font color=white>Backup))
i((<font color=white>Backup))
J(TRE Project 1)
K(<font color=black> Portal)
O(Research software)
o(Research software)
O2(Research software)
o2(Research software)
P(TRE Project 2)

style A fill:#8f1a00
style A1 fill:#8f1a00
style a fill:#8f1a00
style a1 fill:#8f1a00
style G fill:#00758f
style K ffill:#00758f
style B fill:#8f1a00
style b fill:#8f1a00
style I fill:#1738AA
style i fill:#1738AA

linkStyle default fill:none,stroke-width:2px,stroke:green


subgraph Researcher computer w/ Internet connection

subgraph Internet

subgraph e-Research - Web Portal
G --> |<font color=red>Multi factor authentication with King's account| K

subgraph e-Research
F---> I
f---> i
b<---> a
B<---> a1

   K -->  J
   K -->  P

      subgraph <font color=green>TRE Environment
       J--> O --> F
       J--> o --> F
       F <--> B
         subgraph Virtual Desktop

         subgraph TRE Project 1 Storage
         subgraph Virtual Desktop
         subgraph Virtual Desktop

      subgraph <font color=green>TRE Environment
      P--> O2 --> f
      P--> o2 --> f
      f<--> b

         subgraph VirtualDesktop
         subgraph TRE Project 2 Storage
         subgraph Virtual Desktop
         subgraph Virtual Desktop
linkStyle 0,1,5,6,13,18 stroke:red