The government has unveiled a £153 million programme to help ‘commercialise’ quantum technology, as total government spending in this area tops £1 billion.
According to officials, the new ‘commercialising quantum technologies challenge’ will support businesses delivering, what the government calls, “quantum-enabled products” and help to “remove technological barriers to productivity and competitiveness in the UK”.
The programme will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and be supported by an additional £205 million of industry funding.
“New quantum technologies have the potential to revolutionise a range of industries – from cyber security to defence and healthcare,” claimed the government in an announcement.
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“But as an emerging technology, research and innovation in quantum technologies requires continuing government support in order to maximise the industry’s potential in the UK.”
The government claimed that the programme had been “designed to support all aspects of the UK’s quantum industry growth”, including product and service innovations, industry-led development projects, supply chain and venture capital.
Planned activities include collaborative research and development projects, a programme of industry-managed research activities, feasibility projects on innovative components and supply chain elements, as well as investment opportunities for early-stage quantum tech companies.
Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “The UK is a world leader in quantum technologies. The funding announced today builds on the great progress we have made and lays the foundations for a quantum technology industry here in the UK.”
“It will ensure that we remain at the forefront of this exciting and evolving field and that we realise its potential, from improved healthcare to more accurate and reliable navigation, that is fundamental to so many services.”
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Through this challenge, the government has already provided £20m of investment to four ongoing pioneer projects covering areas such as gravity sensing, secure communications and developing a quantum-enabled clock.
The news comes as industry spending on quantum research and development in the fund is set to overtake government investment, which it said shows “business is confident in the commercial potential of the UK’s world-leading research”.
Roger McKinlay, challenge director for quantum technologies at UK Research and Innovation, added: “Quantum technologies will transform all aspects of our lives from more efficient infrastructure to higher levels of security in the transmission and storage of data.
“The announcement of this significant public funding for the industrialisation of quantum technologies exemplifies the benefits of the Industrial Strategy, both in terms of improved coordination across government departments and also the creation of long-term partnerships between government, academia and businesses.
“Five years of investment in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme has given the UK a technological lead which businesses are now ready to turn in to a significant commercial advantage.”
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