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Meet the Industrial Strategy Challenge Director - Quantum

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Red and blue starburst Industrial Strategy logo next to the words Industrial Strategy.

What Industrial Strategy Challenge am I leading?

I am leading the Quantum Industrial Strategy Challenge. Our Industrial Strategy Challenge centres on production of prototype quantum devices that provide breakthrough capabilities to answer key end user challenges in the areas of sensing and secure information exchange.

We intend to promote and support industry leadership, and provide a mechanism for greater investment by industry in quantum technology (QT). We intend to support projects of larger scope and scale than those funded through previous Innovate UK QT competitions.

We also intend to support projects that can cover the full value chain leading to prototype devices (rather than funding component, sub-system and system integration development activities separately) allowing for targeted investment and alignment of stakeholders within individual projects.

Work has started on planning engagement meetings with industry and meetings with core industries to help us realise the opportunities the Challenge offers. I am really looking forward to helping develop these opportunities.

Where have I come from?

I am an academic researcher by background, albeit one that has worked with the community for some years to deliver a coherent strategic vision for quantum technology.

I was the high level sponsor for the area in the early negotiations with Innovate UK and have agreed to be the Interim Director to help get the challenge started, while we are setting about identifying and appointing the permanent Challenge Director.

What are my hopes for the Quantum Challenge?

In order to secure the UK lead in this area, and make sure that the UK companies take a significant share of this large future sector, we must act now with a focus more than ever on working across the spectrum of industry, academia and across government to achieve innovation.

We are now facing a second quantum revolution of electronic and photonic devices that exploit quantum science. Over the next 5-10 years these devices and systems will become as prolific as current electronics.

The four key technologies we have focussed on in the UK - quantum computing, communications, sensing and imaging - span a variety of industries and applications and their adoption will create significant benefits is areas as diverse as healthcare, defence, security, aerospace, transport, civil engineering, telecommunications, finance and information technology.

The world-wide race is on, and we need to reap the rewards of our past investment and the talent pool now committed to making this a success. Our vision involves enhancement of industry linkages through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Wave 2 Pioneer Programme initial investment that we are now developing.

Only by ensuring that the UK maintains its lead in this new generation of technologies will we position ourselves to capture a large share of this emerging global market.

Our vision delivers on the recommendations made by the Blackett Review for Quantum Technology which I helped to produce. Published in 2016 by the Government Office of Science, the review highlights the significant progress made to date, and re-iterates the tremendous opportunity this programme represents for the UK.

Sir Peter Knight

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