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November 10, 2020

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UK and Canada join forces to fund innovative collaborative research projects on quantum technologies

Eight ground-breaking collaborative projects on quantum technologies have received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to carry out research that will have significant impact across sectors such as healthcare, secure communications, defence, computing and financial services.

The funding for the projects came about following an agreement that was signed between the two nations in 2017 to share quantum expertise through academic and business collaborations. The funding includes £2 million from UKRI and C$4.4 million from NSERC. This competition is the first of its kind to fund industry-led partnerships between any two countries to develop quantum technologies. Each of the funded projects includes a UK business lead and a Canadian academic lead, along with several other businesses and Universities in each country. It is clear that the quantum technologies developed through each project will bring great benefit to the economy and society.

One such project, led by UK company Craft Prospect (a partner of the Quantum Communications Hub) and the University of Waterloo in Canada is set to demonstrate the use of quantum technologies for protecting commercial and national communications networks in space. Technology developed through this project will be launched into space in a satellite and will communicate with ground stations on both sides of the Atlantic. Ultimately, quantum communications via satellite will enable data to be transferred securely right around the world, no matter how great the distance is.

Another project, led by UK company Oxford Instruments Nanotechnology Tools Ltd (a spinout company from the University of Oxford) and the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada will focus on creating microelectronic circuits that are robust, reliable and scalable. The microelectronic circuits developed through this project will be of great use to quantum computers and quantum sensors and will be instrumental in furthering their commercialisation.

A third project that has been successful in securing funding will use artificial intelligence to control an atomic resolution microscope to fabricate and identify qubits (the most basic unit of quantum information) made from silicon, which may pave the way to silicon-based quantum computers. This project is led by UK company Nanolayers Research Computing Ltd and the McGill University in Canada. The project also includes academics from Quantum City Partner, UCL Quantum.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

We are only at the start of developing quantum technologies, but it is already clear that they offer us a world of opportunity across entire sectors like healthcare, communications and financial services. The UK and Canada have a strong collaborative relationship in science and technology. By our businesses and academics working together, these incredible new projects will help us accelerate the development, scale up and commercialisation of quantum technologies, ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in this area.”

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, government of Canada, said:

“Quantum technologies have the potential to transform industry and society in Canada, the United Kingdom, and around the world. These ground-breaking collaborations between researchers in Canada and businesses in the UK will help further our knowledge of these transformative technologies. Our government remains committed to investing in science and research, including in quantum where Canada is a recognised early leader”.