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UK Government invests in quantum technologies

Posted on 15 Jun 2020 and read 650 times
UK Government invests in quantum technologiesScience Minister Amanda Solloway (pictured) has today announced 38 new UK projects that will benefit from more than £70 million of Government investment to help mark the start of Quantum Tech Digital Week. The new projects aim to solve global challenges and address key industrial challenges, from developing batteries for electric vehicles to innovating energy storage systems that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, via the use of advanced quantum technologies.

The technologies that have transformed our lives - the building blocks of modern computers, the mobile phone, the laser, the MRI scanner – are all products of quantum science. This involves harnessing the unique ways that light and matter behave at tiny atomic or sub-atomic levels.

A new generation of quantum technologies exploit breakthroughs in the way that we are able to precisely manipulate and measure these special properties, to engineer quantum devices - like sensors and computers - with dramatically enhanced functionality and performance.

One project being led by Oxford-based Adaptix Ltd, a medical imaging company, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, will use enhanced imaging to allow surgeons to effectively differentiate between healthy tissues and tumours in cancer surgery.

In addition, QLM, a start-up from Bristol, in collaboration with BP and the National Grid will use the funds to develop quantum-enabled gas sensors that detect industrial leaks, helping to prevent natural gas being lost to the atmosphere and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. The funding forms part of the Government’s commitment to increase R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP.

Speaking at the Quantum Tech Digital Congress, Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s most advanced quantum technology companies tackling some of the most pressing challenges - from speeding up the diagnosis of cancerous tumours to detecting harmful gas leaks.

“I am delighted the Government is able to provide this thriving sector with the backing it deserves. The projects I have announced today will help to maintain the UK’s status as a world leader in quantum technology.

The £70 million Government investment is part of its Quantum Technologies Challenge, led by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The projects involve over 80 companies and nearly 30 universities and research organisations across the UK including the University of Glasgow, University College London and the National Physical Laboratory.

Other quantum technology projects receiving funding include:

- Developing one of the world’s first quantum computer operating systems. Riverlane, one of the UK’s first quantum software companies, will partner with the chip-designer ARM, and the UK’s leading computing hardware start-ups to develop this innovative operating system which will be used across all major quantum computing hardware technologies, helping businesses to unlock commercial opportunities.

Powering battery technologies with quantum. Phasecraft, one of the UK’s emerging quantum software start-ups will use quantum technology to overcome limitations in battery material designs and help predict their performance. This could break new ground in battery development across sectors from large-scale energy storage and high-performance electric vehicles, as well as lead to the development of more powerful battery devices.

UKRI Challenge director Roger McKinlay said: “Many of these projects have managed to start during lockdown which is very good news. The funding competitions were oversubscribed, illustrating the vibrancy and rate of growth of the UK’s emerging quantum technology sector.

“About one third of the projects concern quantum computing, demonstrating that the UK is becoming the go-to place for this game-changing technology, with a growing community of thriving spin-outs, led by world-class teams. Quantum computers will be exponentially faster than classical computers at certain kinds of complex problems, solving in seconds what would take the best classical computers thousands of years.”

The investment is part of a wider package delivered by The National Quantum Technologies Programme which is set to see more than £1 billion of public and private investment over its lifetime.

The grants that have been awarded will be matched with over £30 million of private investment into the sector, driving the UK’s leading position in quantum technologies.