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UK buys Rigetti quantum computer in £10m deal

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


The Rigetti quantum computer system will be hosted at the newly announced National Quantum Computer Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Rigetti has also developed a cloud-based platform allowing computer programmers to write quantum algorithms and will work alongside Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Bristol and London-based quantum software start-up Phasecraft, as well as the University of Edinburgh.

A Rigetti superconducting quantum computer is already commercially available in the Amazon Web Service (AWS) Bracket cloud, alongside other US-based systems using different approaches from D-Wave and IonQ.

The UK government expects quantum computing to provide £4 billion of economic opportunities globally by 2024, while in the coming decades productivity gains resulting from quantum computing are expected to surpass over £341 billion globally.

“Our ambition is to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities. Therefore, I am delighted that companies across the country will have access to our first commercial quantum computer, to be based in Abingdon,” said UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway.

“This a key part of our plan to build back better using the latest technology, attract the brightest and best talent to the UK and encourage world-leading companies to invest here,” she said.

“We are excited to deliver the UK’s first quantum computer and help accelerate the development of practical algorithms and applications,” said Chad Rigetti, CEO of Rigetti Computing.

There are currently only a small number of quantum computing platforms being developed around the world – presenting an opportunity for the UK to be at the forefront of this technology. The activities announced today will help promote quantum computing across the UK economy, providing businesses with the best opportunity to take advantage of these new technologies in the years to come.

The £93m Centre, first announced in 2018, will bring together academia, businesses and the government to address key challenges to quantum computing, such as scaling-up the technology and making it commercially viable and exploring how to create economic value.

Working closely with industry and the research community, the Centre will also provide businesses and research institutions with access to quantum computers as they are developed around the world and grow the UK’s thriving quantum computing industry.

“Quantum computers are extraordinary new tools with the potential to allow us to tackle previously insurmountable challenges, promising benefits for all of society through applications in areas such as drug discovery and traffic optimisation,” said Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation.

“The National Quantum Computing Centre will tackle the key bottlenecks in quantum computing by bringing together experts from across the UK’s outstanding research and innovation system from academia and industry to unlock the potential of this exciting new technology,” she added.

“The next steps initiating centre recruitment and commissioning technology work packages are very welcome tangible steps as the centre moves from initialisation and conceptual design to facility construction and operational delivery,” said Dr Michael Cuthbert, director of the National Quantum Computing Centre Director.

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