UK Government announce 10-year quantum funding scheme worth £2.5bn

A decade-long programme has been launched by the UK Government, entailing £2.5bn in funding towards quantum computing initiatives

Government ministers are demonstrating a goal to ensure that the UK stays competitive in the global quantum computing race, with the investment scheme — named The Plan for Quantum — set to be announced in this week’s Budget, reported the Financial Times.

Intended to provide further backing towards a pledge to turn the UK into “the next Silicon Valley”, the funding more than doubles that which is at the disposal of researchers under the present £1bn National Quantum Technologies Programme, according to Whitehall-based sources.

The programme also dwarfs the £500,000 in investment dedicated towards quantum startups by governmental innovation agency Innovate UK, in June last year.

While the almost completed National Quantum Computing Centre in Oxfordshire is expected to be a key facilitator of the scheme, the government aims to distribute resources nationwide in order to create a “future network of research hubs”.

Steve Metcalfe, chief executive of London-based investment company Quantum Exponential, told the FT: “We’re extremely pleased to see the UK government’s commitment to quantum.

“To create a market, we need a joined-up approach between government and the investment community, which includes areas such as pension funds to ensure that there’s the level of start-up investment needed — and that ultimately, the UK plays a pivotal role in the acceleration and commercialisation of the industry.”

Richard Murray, co-founder and CEO of Orca Computing — distributor of a quantum computer to the Ministry of Defence — added: “The UK is a hotbed for quantum innovation, and we now really have the chance to break through commercially and develop quantum technologies further into practical uses, particularly in computing where we are already strong.”

The global quantum race

Businesses and researchers across the world are looking to drive value from emerging quantum computing capabilities, which have demonstrated possibility for new business use cases that aren’t available using traditional computing.

Currently, the US and China are leading the global quantum race, with their governments and key players such as IBM and Google investing billions in the technology.

The UK, however, leads the rest of Europe in the number of natively founded quantum startups according to a Sifted study — 39 reside in the country, compared to Germany (18), France and the Netherlands (15 each).

Notably, UCL and University of Oxford-founded scale-up Quantum Motion recently raised the largest funding round in the UK quantum space to date, totalling £42m.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.