Data Driven Futures

£235m for quantum computing centre in UK

Written by Hannah McGrath

The Government is set to establish a new National Quantum Computing Centre as part of a £235 million boost for UK efforts to build the world’s first universal quantum computer.

Following on from the funding announced for the technology and digital industries in this week’s Budget, the UK government has outlined a package of plans aimed at helping the UK to become a world-leader in quantum technologies.

It is hoped that the National Quantum Computing Centre will bring together the UK’s scientists to help develop a new generation of sensing, imaging, timing, navigation, communications and computing devices powered by super-fast quantum computing technology.

Experts believe that quantum computing- which uses sub-atomic particles to take computing performance and processing speed far beyond the capabilities of existing technology- holds the code-breaking and computing power needed to address the security, medical, environmental and societal challenges of the future.

The funding will also go towards a ‘quantum challenge’ aimed at devising real-world market applications for the technology to boost the economy as well as new centres for doctoral training to upskill future leaders in the field.

It is hoped that super-sensitive quantum sensors will be able to detect structures that we cannot currently see such as underground cable networks as well as take on challenges such as mapping the complex interaction of cells in the body or the patterns of complex weather systems.

Quantum sensors and clocks will enable navigation in areas where satellite signals from GPS and Global Navigation Satellite Systems are unavailable.

Announcing the measures, Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: “There is a huge future for cutting edge science in the UK which is why we are investing in ambitious technologies, like quantum, in our modern industrial strategy.

“Quantum technology has already developed sensors that can visualise the invisible deep underground, and see round corners. It makes the impossible possible and now we are backing UK innovators to continue this world-leading work.”

The National Quantum Technologies Programme, first established in 2014, was extended with a £235 million investment announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in Budget on Monday.

In September, the government announced an initial £80 million for the continuation of 4 quantum development hubs, bringing the UK's total investment in to the programme to £315 million between 2019 and 2024.