Last week, the Government published the National Quantum Strategy, which sets out a ten-year vision and plan for quantum in the UK, committing to spend £2.5 billion to research, innovation, skills and other activities in that period, as well as committing an additional £80m over the next two years towards key activities.
This long-term commitment builds on the successful foundation laid by the National Quantum Technologies Programme and the UK sector.
The strategy made much mention of the role of quantum sensing and timing in the UK being in a “strong position to play an important role globally in the next generation of sensors and position, navigation and timing (PNT) capabilities, working with international partners.” [page 21].
The strategy also noted the potential significant environmental impact of quantum sensor technology “[…]by monitoring the emission of greenhouse gases, quantum sensors could help the UK to meet emissions targets and monitor compliance.” [page 42].
Also mentioned in the strategy was the potential impact of quantum sensor technology on defence and healthcare: “Quantum rewrites the rules of classical physics, and in doing so allows us to do things previously thought impossible. Take, for example, exquisitely sensitive brain scanners that will reveal new insights into epilepsy or dementia, or sensors that let us see what lies beneath the ground from the surface. These are already being used in real-world settings today.” [page 5].
To realise this vision, we have set four goals:
- Ensuring the UK is home to world-leading quantum science and engineering, growing UK knowledge and skills
- Supporting businesses, making the UK the go-to place for quantum businesses and an integral part of the global supply chain, as well as a preferred location for investors and global talent
- Driving the use of quantum technologies in the UK to deliver benefits for the economy, for society and for our national security
- Creating a national and international regulatory framework that supports innovation and the ethical use of quantum technologies, and protects UK capabilities and national security
The strategy sets out the main activities Government will undertake to deliver these objectives, including:
- Committing to invest £2.5 billion of government funding in a new quantum R&D programme over the ten years from 2024.
- Increasing our investment in quantum technologies from this year, with new funding available for missions programmes, skills, a quantum networking accelerator amongst other activities.
- Committing to launch new research hubs and wider activities representing £100m.
- Launch new skills initiatives, including doctoral training and fellowships.
- Commissioning an independent review of the quantum sector’s infrastructure requirements.
- Showcasing UK quantum companies at home and overseas, and support global quantum companies to come to the UK
- Accelerating government procurement of quantum technologies
- Expanding our partnerships with global allies
This is the start of an exciting new chapter. To deliver this vision and plan DSIT will work more closely than ever across Government, academia, industry and with our international partners. DSIT’s new Office for Quantum ([email protected]) will be responsible for coordinating much of the activity, working hand in hand with our partners. DSIT will be hosting a series of strategy engagement activities over the coming weeks and months to further shape delivery and the future programme.