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UK quantum requires more investment, says techUK report

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techUK has released a new quantum commercialisation report calling on the UK government and industry to set clear commercial ambitions together.

The report entitled, Quantum commercialisation: Positioning the UK for success, says that by setting our collective commercial goals will give UK-based and international businesses the confidence that the UK is a viable option for quantum commercial viability.

“With the formidable role quantum technologies will play in enabling previously unattainable technological advancements in drug discovery, protein-folding, carbon capture, battery research and more, quantum will be key to unlocking the UK’s success as a science and technology superpower," said Laura Foster, head of technology and innovation, techUK.

"However, industry cannot do this alone – our first quantum report calls on UK Government and industry to set clear commercial ambitions together, giving UK-based and international businesses the confidence that the UK is a viable place to achieve commercial viability.”

According to findings, the industry is beginning to move from research to deployment of the initial quantum use cases, with specific technological advancements in drug discovery, protein-folding, carbon capture, battery research to name a few.

The research from techUK highlighted five key priorities should be addressed without which it will become difficult to sustain a leading quantum ecosystem in the UK with commercialisation at the heart of it.

“The advances being made in Quantum technology offer some of the most exciting opportunities in the innovation pipeline for the years ahead, potentially revolutionising everything from medical diagnostics and autonomous vehicles to military navigation and cybersecurity," added George Freeman, science minister.

“This report highlights just how important the commercialisation of quantum technology will be in unleashing the UK’s full potential as a science superpower, which is why it is a priority for this government as we work to develop the National Quantum Strategy.”

The first is to ensure there is access to quantum talent and to continue to develop quantum skills in the UK. Due to international competition in quantum skills Ramping up the talent pipeline must happen " immediately and rapidly to mitigate the potential of brain drain".

Second, work with the UK tech sector to develop models of easy access to quantum technologies, including building pathways with other critical emerging technologies: the report emphasises the complementary role other technologies such as Cloud, HPC and AI will play for commercialisation.

”We are on the cusp of a quantum revolution. In the years ahead, further advances in quantum-driven technologies, solutions, products and services are expected to bring profound changes to the technology sector and are expected to be transformational in areas as diverse as pharma, finance, telecommunications, construction and civil engineering," said Howard Watson, chief technology officer, BT.

"As the leading UK provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications, BT is determined to ensure the security of the UK’s economy with an ambition for national quantum-secure communications. We welcome techUK’s Quantum Report which recognises the achievements of the UK so far and gives clear recommendations to retain its global leadership.”

Next, is the promotion of international collaboration to help develop opportunities for the UK sector and protect the UK’s capabilities. In particular, the US, Germany and France are among the countries developing at pace and already have the structure to support the growth of their quantum ecosystems.

The report also advises the UK government to encourage public sector procurement of quantum to grow the quantum market, offer stability, and enable commercialisation.

Lastly, it must ensure commercialisation and innovation is achieved in a responsible and ethical way.

“D-Wave is highly supportive of the ongoing discussions around the advancement of quantum technology, and we’re pleased to see the UK government taking an active role. We believe quantum partnership is important for accelerating quantum innovation and impact," added Alan Baratz, president and CEO of D-Wave.

"Governments must not only foster collaboration in research, but also work with industry leaders to build quantum-hybrid applications to solve public sector challenges and facilitate commercial adoption. We also need to act swiftly to support talent development and commercialization. The recent report from techUK reinforces these imperatives, showcasing the commercial readiness of quantum technology and how it can be applied by the private and public sector today.”

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