UK Government Announces £270m Investment In Quantum Computing

Research into quantum computing will benefit from a £270 million government investment over the next five years, according to  Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.

The money will be spent on maintaining five Quantum Technology Centres, which will aim to develop commercial applications for the ideas that are gaining traction in the academic community.

Quantum processors have obvious uses in cryptography and high performance computing, where they can solve certain problems much faster than conventional machines. The technology can also be used for non-computing purposes – for example, quantum gravimeters can measure subtle changes in gravity in order to detect oil fields and mineral deposits, or map underground pipes and cables.

Quntum leap

Quantum computers interact with information using quantum bits or ‘qubits’. Because quantum states can be superposed, these can measure both ‘1’ and’0’ simultaneously – just as the famous cat in Schrodinger’s Paradox can be both alive and dead because it is isolated from the outside world in a coherent quantum state.

These devices can therefore process multiple inputs at the same time – effectively in parallel universes – and determine the right answer to problems which have a huge numbers of possible solutions, as long as their qubits can be kept in a coherent state, isolated from the outside world.

Having recognised the transformative potential of this new technology, the government has decided to invest heavily in five Quantum Technology Centres, based around major universities. It will also spend £11 million to establish an institute at the University of Edinburgh named after the Nobel prize laureate, professor Peter Higgs.

There’s more money in the Autumn Statement for other projects in science and technology, like the Global Collaborative Space Programme, which will receive £80 million over five years. Another £10 million is set aside for a town or a city that chooses to run a self-driving car trial (which is expected to be Milton Keynes).

“Driverless cars have the potential to generate the kind of high-skilled jobs we want Britain to be famous for, as well as cutting congestion and pollution and improving road safety,” said the science minister David Willetts.

The new budget aims to boost businesses in general, with plans to spend £160 million over six years on start-up funding, and cut corporation tax from 23 percent to 21 percent in April 2014 and 20 percent in 2015.

Quantum computing is still facing plenty of challenges on its way to commercialisation. Such systems are notoriously hard to work with, and usually require temperatures close to absolute zero, or −273 °C. However, last month a team from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia managed to maintain a quantum memory ‘superposition’ state at room temperature for 39 minutes – almost 100 times longer than ever before.

British Columbia is also the home of the world’s only commercial quantum computer company, D-Wave, which has sold some of its designs to clients including Google and NASA.

The investment package for quantum computing is much higher than £21.5 million spent by the government on wonder-material graphene, announced by Osborne almost a year ago.

The Autumn Statement has also granted a concession to Britain’s data centre industry by allowing it to step outside other green taxes and form its own agreement to reduce emissions.

What do you know about biometric technology? Take our quiz!

Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

Recent Posts

AT&T Admits Data Breach Impacted “Nearly All” Customers

American telecommunications giant AT&T admits that “nearly all” customer accounts were compromised in 2022 breach

10 hours ago

Elon Musk’s X Breached DSA Rules, EU Finds

X's Blue checks 'used to mean trustworthy sources of information. Now our preliminary view is…

13 hours ago

Japan’s SoftBank Acquires AI Chip Start-up Graphcore

SoftBank Group has purchased another British chip firm, with the acquisition of Bristol-based Graphcore Ltd…

14 hours ago

Samsung AI-Upgraded Bixby Voice Assistant Coming This Year

Samsung reportedly confirms it will launch the upgraded voice assistant Bixby this year, that will…

1 day ago

Next Neuralink Brain Implant Coming Soon, Says Musk

Despite an issue with first Neuralink implant in a patient, Elon Musk says second brain…

1 day ago

EU Accepts Apple’s Legal Commitments To Open NFC Access

Legal commitment over Apple's NFC-based mobile payments system, which is to be opened to rival…

1 day ago