UKRI announces £50 million in funding for UK quantum industrial projects

Quantum Technologies

Swindon-based government agency UK Research and Innovation has announced £50 million in funding for UK quantum industrial projects.

Started in 2014, the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme continues to act as a strategic funder and catalyst in the rapidly growing UK quantum industry.

The projects announced yesterday (Thursday) include:

  • gas leak detection for the hydrogen industry and computers for better drug discovery are two of 12 quantum projects receiving £50 million of UK Research and Innovation investment
  • UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge has awarded almost £60 million to business-led quantum projects in 2021 alone.

This comes as the UK and the USA sign a joint statement of intent to boost collaboration on quantum technologies. This will help to realise the full potential of the technology and deepen ties between the two countries.

A quantum computing system that can model and predict the properties of drugs, leading to significantly faster and more efficient drug discovery, is one of 12 projects receiving a share of £50 million from UKRI’s £170 million Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge.

Challenge director of UK Research and Innovation’s Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge, Roger McKinlay, said: “Quantum is no longer a technology of the future but a technology of today. These projects illustrate how quantum is now making an impact in many areas and will soon influence almost every facet of our lives, from computing and data security, to infrastructure and utilities such as water and energy.

“This government funding is already encouraging the private investment needed for the UK to turn its scientific lead in to an industrial one, creating jobs, exports and economic benefits.”

Science minister George Freeman said: “Quantum computing technologies have the potential to revolutionise the power of computing across our economy and society: from speeding up the development of new drugs, to climate change monitoring to the way we send and receive information.

“That’s why we are signing our UK and USA collaboration agreement on quantum technologies, and supporting these projects which demonstrate our continuing commitment to investing in this exciting area of research.”

Other projects are focused on developing resilient quantum clocks to underpin critical services in:

  • financial trading
  • energy distribution
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Quantum computers have the potential to revolutionise computing. As well as being faster than conventional technology allows, the way they harness the properties of quantum mechanics enables them to solve very complex problems that existing computers cannot.

Quantum technology will also play a part in the UK’s net zero ambitions. The HYDRI consortium’s HYDrogen sensoR for Industry project has received £2.5 million to develop quantum technology to detect gas leaks.

This is critical for the safe rollout of hydrogen as a widely used energy source in domestic, industrial and transportation sectors.

The Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge has already awarded £103 million in grants over the last three years.

This includes almost £8 million of grants awarded by the challenge earlier in 2021. Businesses supported by the programme have raised over £220 million investment since the programme began.

The aim of the Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge is to encourage private investment and create economic and societal benefits through driving innovation across a range of sectors including automotive, healthcare, infrastructure, telecommunications, cybersecurity and defence.