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£1bn investment to make the UK a frontrunner in quantum technologies


The UK government and industry are to jointly invest over £350m into quantum technology projects, taking them from research into product testing, bringing the total investment through the National Quantum Technologies Programme exceed £1bn its inception in 2014. It is believed the investment has secured the UK’s status as a world-leader in quantum science and technologies, keeping pace with the US and China.

“This milestone shows that Quantum is no longer an experimental science for the UK. Investment by government and businesses is paying off, as we become one of the world’s leading nations for quantum science and technologies. Now industry is turning what was once a futuristic pipedream into life-changing products,” said Chris Skidmore, UK’s Science Minister.

The milestone comes as government confirms a £153m funding boost through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This has been more than matched by industry, with over £200m of investment expected from the private sector.

Industry spending on quantum research and development through the Fund will overtake government investment for the first time – showing business is confident in the commercial potential of the UK’s world-leading research. This milestone shows the UK is moving in the right direction towards our target in the modern Industrial Strategy to invest 2.4% of GDP in research and development by 2027.

“This is our modern industrial strategy in action – taking the most innovative ideas from our world-leading researchers and showing how they can be applied, from diagnosing diseases to detecting gas leaks,” added Skidmore.

Quantum technologies represent a new generation of high-performing devices. Quantum technologies could easily solve problems that would stump any existing supercomputer and tackle challenges that we can’t meet any other way. Examples include simulating molecules to transform drug discovery to treat diseases, using sensors to see round corners and through walls, and helping engineers detect scentless gas leaks invisible to human eyes.

In the coming months, a new programme board will be set up, alongside an expert advisory group to set the strategy for the next phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme, looking at developing technologies and identifying market opportunities.

Industry leaders have formed an independent Quantum Technology Leadership Group to represent the needs of industry with government and look at the commercial activity and economic impact of quantum technologies. The group will be co-chaired by Dr Trevor Cross, group chief technology officer at Teledyne e2v and Dr Graeme Malcolm, CEO and co-founder at MSquared Lasers.

[Image credit: David Latorre Romero for Unsplash]

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