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Why the UK will be the world’s first quantum economy

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One vision of our industrial future will see fleets of autonomous vehicles transporting passengers and goods. Each vehicle will need to ‘see’ the world around it with perfect clarity and be connected to our next-generation communications networks with secure, real-time information transfer for location and navigation.  Journeys will be optimised to get people where they are going faster, using less energy.

Quantum technologies, which exploit our understanding of light and matter at the atomic level, will support this vision to help make this future a reality.

A new generation of sensors will see through smoke, fog and vegetation, quantum secure communications networks will ensure our data is safe and quantum computers will enable journey times and logistics to be fully optimised, which is out of reach for today’s computing technology.

The Transportation and Logistics sector is one example of where we see quantum technologies as having a transformative impact. At the 2020 UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase on 6 November, you will see that this impact will reach many sectors of our economy including pharmaceutical, energy and finance.

First-mover advantage

The UK is leading the race to be the world’s first quantum-enabled economy. Capitalising on its world-leading scientific base, the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme was established in 2014. This government investment put quantum science on a commercial footing, through four technology hubs and was a global first, giving the UK a first-mover advantage.

The programme entered its second phase this year with significantly more industrial activity and a step-change in private sector investment. The total government and industry investment expected to reach £1 billion over 10 years. The global market for these technologies will be measured in the tens of billions in the next decade and where the UK has led, international competitors have followed.

Industry steps up in 2020

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), the UK challenged industry to commercialise quantum technologies and in 2020, despite the economic headwinds, industry has stepped up to the mark.

This year, over 80 businesses are collaborating with 30 universities and research organisations to lead 38 new projects to drive quantum technologies towards transformative products for the market, these include:

Industrial facility with methane tanks.
A quantum imaging camera measures the concentration of methane at an industrial facility. Copyright QLM Technology Ltd 2020.
  • QLM a start-up from Bristol, working with a consortium including BP and the National Grid to develop quantum-enabled gas sensors. This seeks to address a longstanding industrial issue whereby almost 5% of natural gas is lost through leaks, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. A network of infrastructure sensors will stop these emissions at the source.
  • ColdQuanta UK are leading an industrial consortium including BAE Systems to develop precision quantum sensors for aircraft navigation, allowing independence from global satellite navigation networks and protection against vulnerabilities in signal loss and jamming, for safety and security.
  • Rigetti UK will join Oxford Instruments, University of Edinburgh, Phasecraft, a quantum software start-up and Standard Chartered to develop a quantum computing platform and core end-use cases, including applications in finance.

The video above shows delegates from industry and academia highlighting the potential of quantum technologies at the 2019 quantum showcase.

The UK Quantum Showcase 2020

The leading role of industry is why we think that the UK is set to be the world’s first quantum economy, bringing quantum technologies to users in the marketplace and transforming society in the process.

Join us for the UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase on the 6 November to see for yourself and get to know the businesses and research organisations driving the UK towards this goal.

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