UK MPs call for more innovation and training in quantum technologies
6 December 2018
Opportunities and challenges for UK quantum technologies discussed in a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
MPs in the UK House of Commons are calling for major investments in both Innovation Centres and training in quantum technologies. Opportunities and challenges for the UK quantum technologies sector are discussed in a report published yesterday by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The committee took evidence from a number of eminent industrialists and academics (including UCL’s Professor Sir Michael Pepper, Professor John Morton and Professor Emeritus David Delpy) invited as key witness to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry last June.
The global quantum technologies industry is predicted to grow to exceed £200 bn per year. Potential applications in quantum technologies are wide-ranging, including unhackable telecommunications systems, computers to enable design of new pharmaceuticals, and sensors with unrivalled sensitivity. The Quantum Science and Technology Institute at UCL is at the vanguard of developments in several of these areas.
Earlier this year the government announced a new round of funding, totalling £315 million, to support the next phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme. Whilst the Committee praised the government to continue funding the programme, it believes that more can be done with it.
The committee specifically recommended that Innovation Centres be established in the UK to drive forward commercialization of quantum technologies. It argues that such centres should “provide access to facilities for developing, manufacturing, testing and validating quantum technologies, as well as act as focal points around which collaboration and supply chains can consolidate.” UCL’s planned Q-LABS Innovation Centre in quantum computation and quantum simulation, led by Professor Paul Warburton, maps well into this description, lowering the barrier to entry for SMEs into quantum computation and minimizing risk for corporate partners.
In addition, the MPs highlighted a lack of skills in the workforce as a potential risk for the UK in the exploitation of quantum technologies. Both UCL’s “InQuBATE” Training and Skills Hub (led by Prof Andrew Fisher) and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Delivering Quantum Technologies (led by Prof Dan Browne) continue to make key impacts in delivering both technological and transferable skills to the next generation of quantum leaders.
Professor Dan Browne said: “In order to maximise the enormous potential benefits of quantum technology, we must ensure that the leaders of the future are highly-skilled, versatile and networked. The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the Delivering Quantum Technologies is training a vibrant, innovative new generation of researchers, ready to become the leaders of this transformative new industry.”
The Committee’s call for action will enhance the impact of the second phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme and accelerate the translation of quantum technologies into the marketplace, ensuring the UK remains a world leader in quantum technology markets.