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November 25, 2020

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£10 million project launched to overcome the technology barriers to commercial quantum computing

Quantum computers will have significant impact upon society and will offer solutions to problems that, until now, have been impossible to solve. Currently, only small devices are available, however, work is ongoing globally to create and commercialise large and powerful quantum computers.

Through the Quantum Computing and Simulation Hub and the National Quantum Computing Centre, which are both part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, the UK is already a world leader in the field of quantum computing. A recently funded industry-led project, DISCOVERY, will accelerate the UK’s progress towards a commercially viable quantum computer even further.

DISCOVERY is a major collaborative project with nine partners from industry and academia and is the largest industry-led project to be funded in the UK, to date. The project is worth £10 million and has received some funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, run by Innovate UK, another partner of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

There are several approaches to building commercially viable quantum computers, however, the DISCOVERY project will focus upon three methods underpinned by photonics, these are: neutral atom, ion trap and optical qubits (the most basic unit of quantum information). These methods include the most advanced quantum computing hardware, although at present, there are still challenges surrounding viability and scalability. This project will work to overcome these issues during its three-year lifetime and will move the UK further towards a scalable, commercial quantum computer.

The industry partners of the project include Kelvin Nanotechnology, M Squared, Oxford Ionics, ORCA Computing and TMD Technologies; they will work closely with the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Oxford, along with the National Physical Laboratory.