A new artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing centre has been launched in North West England, thanks to a £210 million investment from the Government and IBM
aimed at helping cement the UK’s status as a ‘science superpower’.
The Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation
(HNCDI), based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory (in the Liverpool City Region), will create vacancies for an additional 60 scientists and opportunities for students to gain ‘invaluable hands-on experience’.
The centre — a partnership between STFC and IBM — will bring together world-leading expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing to support the application of these cutting-edge technologies in industry and the public sector.
Possible industry applications of quantum computing include: optimising complex logistics; traffic routing; energy distribution; and improving design and manufacturing processes throughout the automotive sectors.
The Government will invest £172 million over five years through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), with an additional £38 million being invested by IBM. Some £28 million of the Government’s investment will be in the first year. Cutting-edge technologies
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “Artificial intelligence and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise everything from the way we travel to the way we shop. This new partnership with IBM will not only help businesses get ready for the future of computing but also create 60 jobs in the region — boosting innovation and growing the economy as we ‘build back better’ from the pandemic.
“The HNCDI will make cutting-edge technologies like AI and quantum computing more accessible to businesses and public sector organisations; and as well as breaking down practical barriers to using new technologies — for example, by providing access to equipment and infrastructure — the team of experts at HNCDI will also provide training and support to make sure the UK is at the forefront of the next generation of computing.”
Dario Gil, the senior vice president and director of IBM Research, said: “The world is facing grand challenges that demand a different approach towards science in computing, including AI and quantum computing, to engage a broad community across industry, government, and academia to accelerate discovery in science and business. This partnership establishes our first ‘Discovery Accelerator’ in Europe, driven by our two UK-based IBM Research locations in Hursley and Daresbury.
“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 subatomic levels.
“A new generation of quantum technologies will 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.”