The UK government has announced a major new £45 million investment aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of revolutionary quantum technologies, which harness the strange properties of quantum physics to enable powerful new computing, sensing, imaging and communication capabilities surpassing the limitations of classical technologies.
The new funding provides a significant boost to the UK’s mission to steer towards an economy profoundly transformed and empowered by quantum technology integration across critical sectors like healthcare and transportation.
Key quantum technology projects receiving backing through the new funding infusion include the development of a pioneering quantum brain scanner for radically improved diagnosis of debilitating neurological conditions like epilepsy, concussion and dementia. The scanner would exploit quantum sensing to enable previously impossible levels of neural activity imaging precision within the brain.
Another major project centres on the creation of a smart quantum navigation system for railway transport, aiming to substantially enhance safety, reduce operating costs, and improve performance in tunnels. The navigation tech would employ ultra-sensitive quantum sensors for unprecedented accuracy in guiding and monitoring train systems.
Announcing the investments at quantum tech leader Cerca Magnetics, Science Minister Andrew Griffith said the £45 million allocation powerfully underscores the UK government’s stalwart commitment to nurturing brilliant domestic quantum innovators at the bleeding edge and seizing the mammoth economic growth potential as quantum transforms public services. Griffith emphasized how the UK has constructed globally admired leadership in quantum, and vowed sustained investment momentum to fortify the strategic position as the nation enters a new era of technological prowess and prosperity seeded by quantum.
The funding package includes a £30 million UK Research and Innovation and National Quantum Computing Centre joint investment to back the development of customer-accessible quantum computing hardware prototypes leveraging multiple technological approaches from ion traps to photonics. By enabling hands-on experimentation and comparison, the project aims to deeply catalyze the evolution of scalable quantum computers matched to specialized applications, working to close the gap between academic research and commercial solutions.
An additional £15 million has been allocated through the new Quantum Catalyst Fund to urgently spur integration of quantum capabilities across government functions, strategically poising the public sector to capitalize on diverse benefits as the technology matures. Initial feasibility studies focused on the enormous potential in areas like quantum-boosted energy grid management, healthcare advances through quantum brain imaging, and novel quantum optimizations to enhance transport systems. £15 million now launches Phase 2 prototyping for the most promising public sector quantum concepts.
The investments represent the latest surge within the UK’s pioneering £1 billion decade-long National Quantum Technologies Programme established in 2014, which has systematically built formidable UK capabilities spanning quantum computing, sensing, imaging, timing and communications. March 2023 saw the UK government unveil an aggressive new National Quantum Strategy, committing over £2.5 billion in additional funding through 2033 with the goal to completely transform the UK into a quantum-empowered economy across the private and public sectors within the decade.