As part of this Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, Mr Hunt will reportedly set in motion development of a national quantum supercomputer within a decade, as well as funding towards areas such as quantum sensors, imaging and financial trading systems, according to the Telegraph.
The new supercomputer is likely to be hosted by the National Quantum Computing Centre near Oxford.
Planned funding is said by government officials to be in the ballpark of £200m to £300m, drawn from the £2.5bn pledged as part of a wider 10-year national quantum investment roadmap, with sources referring to the Chancellor’s plans as “tangible, specific and exciting moonshots”.
With extensive research into the emerging technology revealing capability of cutting decades of problem-solving into an instant, quantum development is being viewed as a national security priority due to its potential to breach armed forces and bank encryption.
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Founder and CEO of quantum company Riverlane, Steve Brierley, told the Telegraph that the financial support has made the country “a first mover globally, created a thriving UK ecosystem, a successful co-investment model and an early lead in several key technologies”.
Ashley Montanaro, co-founder and CEO of quantum algorithms company Phasecraft, commented: “Among other applications, quantum computers will enable rapid and accurate modelling of novel materials that are vital for the clean energy revolution.
“The development of quantum algorithms and software is crucial if the hardware is to fulfil its true potential – breakthrough algorithms can reduce the cost of solving problems by factors of a million or more. We expect that efficient algorithms will enable the earliest quantum advantages to be realised in the next few years.
“The long-term support for work on quantum hardware, algorithms and software provided by the UK’s Quantum Computing Mission is essential to help the industry go beyond these early advantages and will enable quantum computers to deliver a host of scientific and technological breakthroughs of great benefit to society.”
Getting back in the race
A ‘Future of Compute Review‘ undertaken by the government earlier this year concludes that the UK is falling behind several other nations on supercomputer performance, dropping from third (behind the US and Japan) to 10th in the global race.
However, the UK remains seen as a leader of research into the technology, its Ministry of Defence having acquired the Government’s first supercomputer last year.
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