Quantum Tech

£45 million of investment to unlock the potential of quantum

5th February 2024
Paige West

The announcement by Science Minister Andrew Griffith of a £45 million investment has marked a significant step towards enhancing the use of quantum technology across various sectors including healthcare, energy, and transport.

This funding is aimed at supporting projects that leverage quantum technology to bring about revolutionary changes in fields such as medical diagnostics and railway navigation.

Among the beneficiaries are projects focused on the creation of an advanced brain scanner utilising quantum technology, intended to enhance the diagnosis of conditions like epilepsy and dementia, and a quantum sensor-based smart navigation system for trains designed to reduce costs and improve safety in tunnels. These projects underscore the UK's role in pioneering quantum technology applications that could transform both healthcare and transportation sectors.

Quantum technology offers a promising solution to complex challenges that are beyond the capability of current advanced classical computers, opening new possibilities in sensing, timing, imaging, and communication.

Minister Griffith's visit to Cerca Magnetics, a spin-out from the University of Nottingham supported by the National Quantum Technologies Programme, will highlight how the £45 million investment aligns with the government's strategy to evolve into a quantum-enabled economy by 2033.

The investment includes £30 million from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Technology Missions Fund and the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) for the development of quantum computing hardware prototypes through a competitive process. An additional £15 million from the Quantum Catalyst Fund aims to expedite the integration of quantum technologies in government operations, facilitating their application in both the private and public sectors.

Science Minister, Andrew Griffith MP, emphasised the government's commitment to quantum technology development, stating: "As we steer towards an economy benefitting from quantum, this further £45 million in funding underscores our commitment to support bright UK innovators who are pushing boundaries and seizing the potential of this technology to transform our public services.

"Cutting-edge work on a quantum enabled brain scanner, which will be a beacon of hope for those battling neurological conditions, is just one example.

"The UK is already one global leader in quantum and to maintain that position this government will continue to invest in this transformational technology propelling the UK into a new era of technological prowess and economic growth.”

Quantum technology is recognised as a critical technology by the government, with potential applications that could address some of society's biggest challenges. It is expected to play a transformative role across various sectors, contributing to economic growth and job creation, in line with one of the Prime Minister's five priorities.

UKRI and NQCC are backing projects to establish world-leading quantum computing testbeds, which will accelerate the development and practical testing of scalable quantum computers. These testbeds will enable experimentation with quantum algorithms on various hardware platforms to determine the most effective technologies for specific problems.

The Quantum Catalyst Fund, with a £15 million budget, aims to foster the use of quantum technologies within the public sector, offering innovative solutions across healthcare, energy, and other policy areas.

Initial feasibility studies under the fund have explored quantum technology applications in governmental challenges, with phase two funding set to support the development of prototypes demonstrating these solutions.

This investment is part of the UK's ongoing commitment to leading in the field of quantum technologies, as highlighted by the National Quantum Strategy, which outlines a comprehensive plan for advancing quantum technology development and application across the UK.

Dr Michael Cuthbert, Director of the National Quantum Computing Centre, said: “My congratulations to the lead providers of our seven awarded quantum testbeds. Over the coming 15 months these prototype quantum computing platforms will be deployed into the newly established NQCC facility providing us with a valuable insight into the maturity, characteristics, and capabilities available across a range of hardware architectures.

“This next phase of the NQCC will be one of huge promise establishing a unique state of the art facility with on-premises access to a range of qubit modalities at scale."

Dr Kedar Pandya, Executive Director, Cross-Council Programmes at UKRI, said: “We are on the brink of a quantum technology revolution that is poised to transform diverse industries from the financial sector to healthcare, and UKRI is committed to ensuring the UK’s place at the forefront of this.

“We are providing our world-leading businesses and institutions the resources and tools needed to build a strong foundation in quantum computing with the potential to scale their activities for long-term competitive advantage.

“This investment will help our researchers and innovators develop the blueprint for quantum computing hardware and software and secure the UK’s place in this developing field.”

Professor Will Drury, Executive Director, Digital and Technologies at Innovate UK said: “Quantum technologies have the potential to meet some of the greatest challenges society faces. By unleashing computing power that goes far beyond existing digital technology, we can reach new frontiers in sensing, timing, imaging, and communications.

“This could be transformative for life in the UK and will create new, well-paid jobs that will boost our future economy.”

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