Commercialising quantum technologies
An overview of the government’s challenge to industry and research to enable the UK to lead the global development and application of quantum technologies.
What is the commercialising quantum technologies challenge?
Quantum-enabled devices present a huge market opportunity for the UK. These technologies could transform a range of sectors including automotive, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications, cybersecurity and defence.
For the UK to lead the global race, we need to build on the UK National Quantum Technology Programme and focus on the end users of the devices that quantum promises to transform. Support from government for research and development (R&D) of new technologies is essential to maximise their potential.
Part of this work will involve engaging researchers to turn quantum science into quantum engineering. It will also be essential to support businesses developing quantum-enabled products, removing barriers to productivity and competitiveness.
What’s the investment?
Up to £20 million of 'pioneer' funding was allocated in 2018 to help establish how quantum technologies can be used in the products of the future and give the UK a global advantage.
Now, government is investing £153 million funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). This funding will also be supported by £205 million from industry.
What are the opportunities?
The ISCF’s new £153 million challenge will comprise 4 areas, designed to support the UK quantum industry’s growth:
- product and service innovations: a series of collaborative R&D competitions, designed to deliver new quantum-enabled product and service innovations
- industry-led technology development projects: a programme of industry-led research activities, each addressing specific challenges
- supply chain: a series of feasibility projects looking at innovative components and supply chain elements across the quantum sector
- investment accelerator: supporting early-stage, spin-out and start-up quantum technologies companies to secure venture capital
Pioneer fund projects
The ISCF’s quantum pioneer challenge funded the development of 4 prototype quantum-enabled devices that could be used in the next generation of sensors, consumer electronics and digital services.
- Surveying underground before you start digging: RSK is leading a project with a consortium of businesses and universities to use quantum sensors to detect objects underground. Initially, the technology will be used by road-working companies, but it could also be used in the rail network
- Precise timing: Manufacturer Teledyne e2V (UK) is leading a project to develop a pre-production prototype of a miniature atomic clock. It will enable services such as energy supply, transport and mobile communications to function in the event of disruption to the current standard timing service, Global Navigation Satellite Systems
- Secure encryption: Toshiba Research Europe is leading a project to develop the UK supply of low-cost integrated chips, which will enable more secure transmission of data using new encryption technologies
- Keeping data safe: Encryption project led by ArQit. creating advanced receivers to pick up quantum key signals. These keys are used to keep data safe by using quantum technology to let companies know if the data they are transmitting has been accessed
The past, present and future of the UK's quantum industry
Roger McKinlay, Director of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s quantum technologies challenge, explores the UK quantum industry’s journey towards commercialisation.
The UK's journey to quantum readiness
As the sector begins scale up and identify the first potential industrial users, what stage is the UK’s quantum industry currently at?