UK Aims to Be “World’s First Quantum-Ready Economy”

The £153 million fund is in addition to the NQTP's £1 billion programme.

By Joel Davies -

The UK government has announced a £153 million fund, supported by a significant investment from industry, to remove technical barriers and deliver new products and services based on advances in quantum technology. UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £46.8 million for collaborative research and development or technology projects in quantum.

The aim of this competition is to advance the commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK and increase private sector investment. The competition is being funded through UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for commercialising quantum technologies.

Challenge Director Roger McKinlay said, “We now have a growing ecosystem in the UK of businesses and research organisations who are looking at the exciting challenge of how we commercialise quantum technologies. This significant competition opening will further reinforce the strong interest in these industrial activities”.

The challenge is looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities. Projects must exploit second-generation quantum techniques and focus on one or more of the four following themes:

  • Connectivity: techniques for securing data in storage and in flight.
  • Situational awareness: including sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure.
  • Imaging and sensing to “see things currently invisible”.
  • Computing: transformational computers for solving currently intractable problems.
Dr Michael Cuthbert will lead the research into UK quantum technology.

The news follows the announcement that the UKRI has appointed Dr Michael Cuthbert as National Quantum Computing Centre director. The NQCC is being established with a £93 million investment by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP). The NQTP, a ten-year, £1 billion programme, was launched to accelerate the development of quantum technologies that will have a transformative impact on many areas of the economy and society.

Dr Cuthbert was appointed as Interim NQCC Director in February 2020 and has led the centre through its startup phase, including its launch and publication of its strategic intent. He will continue to lead work to establish the NQCC and realise its goal of developing a fully scalable, fault-tolerant quantum computer. The centre will work with UK start-ups and components suppliers to develop a sustainable industry able to deliver the UK’s ambitions to be a quantum-enabled economy.

EPSRC Executive Chair, Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, said, “The NQCC will play a key role in achieving the UK’s goal to become the world’s first quantum-ready economy. We are extremely fortunate to have been able to appoint Michael as the permanent Director of the NQCC. His vision and leadership have already helped define the UK’s ambition in quantum computing. We look forward to breaking new ground in quantum computing as part of our wider commitment to quantum technologies in the UK”.

You can find more information on the UKRI’s website. Stay up to date with the most recent Automation, Machine Vision, and Robotics news on MVPro.

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