UK boosts quantum tech with £2.5bn 10 year plan

UK boosts quantum tech with £2.5bn 10 year plan

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK government has launched a ten year plan for quantum technology with a doubling of funding to £2.5bn (€2.85bn). It aims to almost double its market share in quantum sensing, timing and networking as well as computing.

“The UK is already a global leader in quantum technologies. In 2014 we set up the National Quantum Technologies Programme, the first of its kind in the world, to support excellent research and begin to take technologies out of the research environment. The UK’s highly collaborative quantum community reflects that foresight from nearly ten years ago,” said Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for science, innovation and technology.

“This national strategy sets out our new ten-year ambitious commitment to quantum technologies in the UK. Wwe are more than doubling our investment into quantum by investing £2.5 billion in quantum over the next ten years, with the aim of attracting significant additional private investment on top of that.”

The strategy will see funding for a A future network of research hubs in areas of quantum technologies and science and accelerator programmes that will increase the pace of progress towards the development and commercialisation of quantum technologies

It will continue the challenge-led innovation funding, driving collaboration between industry, academia and government and strengthening the growing UK quantum sector with training and talent programmes for the postgraduate skills, technical professionals and apprenticeships to deliver the quantum researchers, innovators and practitioners the UK needs

New funding will be available for a  £70 million programme of missions in quantum computing and PNT as well as £100 million investment to continue to develop research hubs in quantum computing, communications, sensing, imaging and timing

£25 million for increased investment in quantum fellowships and doctoral training and £15 million to boost government procurement of quantum technologies for public use as well as £20 million for acceleration activities working with the sector on collaborative R&D in quantum networking. There will also be £20 million additional funding for increased activities through the National Quantum Computing Centre

The government has already funded 139 projects involving 141 quantum organisations through the Innovate UK Commercialising Quantum Challenge and the UK has attracted ~12% of global private equity investment into quantum technology companies in the last ten years. By 2033, the UK aims to grow that to a 15% share of global private equity investment into quantum technology companies.

The UK currently has an estimated ~9% global market share in quantum technologies by 2022. More importantly, by 2033, the UK will have a 15% share of the global quantum technologies market

“The UK is becoming a low risk place to undertake high risk ventures, largely as a result of world leading research supported by government and successfully spun out of universities. The National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) was a key part of this,” said James Palles-Dimmock, CEO of UK startup Quantum Motion

“The next phase, with an increased budget of £2.5bn will put us at the forefront globally for governmental investment into quantum technologies, after some significant support from the US, Germany and China to their respective national programs. It is a big signal that the UK wants to build on the ‘unfair advantage’ that we have thanks to the work of the NQTP and our world leading universities and that we have a desire to see quantum technologies through to commercialisation.”

“While the UK does have a large advantage in this area it is important that we still have the capacity to work collaboratively across borders. Manufacturing and talent are two key areas where the gains to be made from collaborative working significantly outweigh the risks and I will be keen to see how we can continue to welcome the best of world’s talent to the UK to allow us to continue to accelerate the realisation of these enabling technologies.”

Another UK startup highlights the need to invest in quantum hardware as well as algorithms.

We welcome the £2.5bn investment, which builds on the UK Government’s National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) from 2014 and puts us on a par with investments from other European countries<” said Steve Brierley, CEO & Founder of Riverlane. 

“While the UK may not be able to match the spending power of the US and China, we are in a strong position thanks to our existing semiconductor and quantum expertise. The UK could become a quantum superpower, not by spending big but by spending smart – and on a specific area of the quantum computing stack.”

 “Every quantum computer consists of three layers: the quantum hardware, central control chips and applications. While investment in industry applications/algorithms is worth continuing – it will be for nothing if we don’t have high-quality, scalable chips and quantum hardware. If we develop the world’s central chip layer in parallel with developing the quantum hardware layer, this provides the UK with a smart, future-proofed quantum strategy,” he said.

“The chips are where the classical control electronics exist. Leadership in the middle layer of the quantum stack is a smart investment for the UK Government and where our existing quantum and semiconductor expertise lies. Every quantum computer (regardless of its hardware or application layers) needs this middle layer to operate – and the UK will be able to meet the global demand by designing and holding the IP for the chips to power every quantum computer in the world. If we also develop the leading quantum hardware in tangent – we could win twice.”

 “If the UK owns the critical, middle layer of the quantum computing stack, then this represents a significant market opportunity. Simply put, without the quantum middle layer, the world cannot unlock the revolutionary applications (and economic advantages) that quantum computers could provide.”




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