Quantum technology has the potential to make transformative impacts in computing, security, sensing and navigation, and future UK investments should prioritise technology platforms with the best fit to industrial priorities, say two UCL professors giving evidence at to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on quantum technologies.
Professor John Morton and Professor Sir Michael Pepper, both UCL professors, acted as key witnesses in the second panel of the inquiry along with Dr Ashley Montanaro, from University of Bristol and Jonathan Flint, from the Institute of Physics.
Quantum technologies have been selected by the Government as one of fourteen ‘core industrial challenges’ to be tackled through its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The National Quantum Technologies Programme, which was set up in 2013, will be allocating £20m of ‘pioneer funding’ to the quantum technology sector and is the subject of a minister-led review.
As the technology presents huge opportunities, the panel discussed key challenges in light of in- tense international activity and priority actions for the next phase of a national quantum technology programme.
“The UK sets itself apart with the quality of advanced training and skills it provides in quantum tech- nology. At UCL, our training programme has attracted visitors from Canada and Australia who hope to take what they learn in the UK back home and replicate it at their own universities,” said Professor John Morton, Director of the UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute.
“We’ve had fantastic feedback from industries globally, commending our training programmes, which is why we think it is essential to fund into the next stage of the National Quantum Technologies Programme.”
The significance of supporting high-risk / high-reward technologies such as quantum computers was highlighted, as was the need to cover a range of quantum hardware platforms, such as those based on solid-state devices which have been backed by both big industry and UK start-ups.
The discussion also raised the crucial role that industrial partners play in developing emerging tech- nologies, and the potential for Innovation Centres to bring together start-ups, SMEs, big industry and university experts to accelerate quantum technology development.
“Involving companies at an early stage of research is very important. Once the opportunity of design- ing systems has been proved, customers and companies should be brought in to ensure that they meet the requirements in terms of standards and usability,” added Professor Sir Michael Pepper, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Pender Chair of Nanoelectronics at UCL.
The panel concluded that quantum technologies have the potential to impact a wide range of scien- tific disciplines and they require extensive multi-disciplinary cooperation between computer scien- tists, engineers, physicists and end-users.
In order to move this technology into a large-scale market, many skilled scientists and long-term investments are required for UK to be leading this revolution.