The UK’s quantum science research sector will receive a multi-million-pound funding boost so projects can be taken from research and into product testing.
The government, in partnership with the industry, will contribute a fresh £350 million to R&D in the realm of quantum computing, tipping the amount the UK has invested in the field beyond the £1 billion mark.
The National Quantum Technologies Programme’s (NQTP) strategic advisory board has previously complained that government investment in quantum computing research has fallen well short of expectations.
The programme, which was set up by the government in 2013, aims to move projects on from research and planning stages to real-world use cases as well as products that can reach the market.
After an initial funding round of £270 million in 2014, the government announced a further £80 million investment in September last year. But the strategic advisory board had previously asked for four times the amount, leading to accusations the UK was losing its ground against its international competitors.
The government will invest £153 million of public money in quantum science, in addition to more than £200 million of funding sourced from the private sector. This will take the total quantum investment over time to more than £1 billion, according to the government.
“This milestone shows that Quantum is no longer an experimental science for the UK,” said science minister Chris Skidmore.
“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.
“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.”
The government said that research in the field could lead to innovations to solve problems that are not possible through other means. An example of this could be simulating molecules to improve the way drugs are discovered.
The government will also set up a new programme board in the next few months, as well as an advisory group. This will be to set the investment strategy and explore market opportunities for the next phase of the NQTP.
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