This seminar considered the way forward for developing quantum technologies in the UK.
Areas for discussion included:
- Progress so far and the UK’s international position;
- Investment and commercialisation;
- Tackling the key technical challenges; and
- The wider transformative potential of quantum technologies, as well as possible broader societal implications.
It took place following the announcement of a series of rounds of government funding for the UK National Quantum Technology Programme - and in the context of the government agenda in a new parliament.
Delegates discussed progress made so far under the overarching national programme - including on individual projects, such as the establishment of a National Quantum Computing Centre and the development of Centres for Doctoral Training - and on what more might be required from policymakers, researchers, and businesses to support work into developing quantum technologies in the UK.
Further discussion took place on underpinning the UK’s international competitiveness and positioning in quantum R&D in the face of major investments being made by a number of other players, including the USA, China, and EU.
Those in attendance also considered what more needs to be done to address the key remaining technical and practical barriers to widespread commercialisation of quantum technologies across areas such as computing, sensing, metrology, imaging, and communications.
Discussion took place on issues around scalability, stability, and reliability, and integration with existing systems and computing processes.
Delegates also assessed potential disruptive implications of quantum technologies, including the challenges it may pose to conventional cybersecurity and encryption methodologies - and the way forward for developing new technologies and approaches to mitigate these concerns at an early stage.
Following the announcement by UKRI of the commercialising quantum technologies programme, there was further discussion on key priorities for driving the development of practical applications for quantum technologies and their rollout into the wider economy.
Sessions examined the progress being made by the UKRI-funded Quantum Pioneer Challenge Fund projects - such as the Gravity Pioneer project, aiming to develop a quantum gravity sensor for use in underground surveying - and what learning from these projects might be applied more broadly, as well as some of the key obstacles encountered and solutions deployed.
The agenda also brought out latest thinking on what more may be needed from policymakers to incentivise private sector investment into quantum technology projects, as well as the way forward for developing effective collaboration between the public sector, academia, and industry.
The conference also provided an opportunity to discuss the potential overall impact of any future growth in the use of quantum technologies across a range of sectors and business areas.
There was also discussion on the possible broader societal implications of the development of quantum technologies, and whether new regulatory developments might be needed in the future in order to avoid unforeseen negative consequences.