The UK Government has announced a £153 million programme through which it aims to commercialise the UK's nascent quantum computing industry.

Quantum computing, trumpeted by its supporters as the next big thing in technology, aims to dramatically improve performance for certain workloads by swapping the binary bits of traditional computing for quantum qubits which can be held in superposition - being both 0 and 1 at the same time. Everyone from Microsoft, Google, and Intel to the University of Bristol are working on the technology, and now the UK Government is throwing some money onto the pile in an attempt to put the country at the forefront.

As part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the UK Government has announced £153 million in funding for commercialising quantum technology. That funding, it has claimed, will be matched by a further £205 million from the industry itself, and while the programme it supports is to be delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

'The UK is a world leader in quantum technologies. The funding announced today builds on the great progress we have made and lays the foundations for a quantum technology industry here in the UK,' claims Professor Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation. 'It will ensure that we remain at the forefront of this exciting and evolving field and that we realise its potential, from improved healthcare to more accurate and reliable navigation, that is fundamental to so many services.'

'Quantum technologies will transform all aspects of our lives from more efficient infrastructure to higher levels of security in the transmission and storage of data,' adds UKRI challenge director for the project Roger McKinlay. 'The announcement of this significant public funding for the industrialisation of quantum technologies exemplifies the benefits of the Industrial Strategy, both in terms of improved coordination across government departments and also the creation of long-term partnerships between government, academia and businesses. Five years of investment in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme has given the UK a technological lead which businesses are now ready to turn in to a significant commercial advantage.'

The funding, which is in addition to £20 million already provided to four quantum projects, brings the total invested in the National Quantum Technologies Programme to over £1 billion. The programme has not, however, yet delivered a prototype for any of its projects; the first of these may arrive, its organisers claim, within the next two years in the fields of gravity sensing, secure communications, and quantum-enabled time measurement.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04