British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has outlined the new UK Science and Technology Framework, and Quantum Technologies has been flagged as one of five tech sectors the UK should focus on to flourish. Some are torn on the topic – is it vital? Should we be investing elsewhere? As reported by the University of Manchester’s Professor Richard Curry, it’s a feasible goal to establish quantum computing in the UK. How is the government going to make it a reality?
It’s not just the framework itself that Sunak announced; the Spring budget announcement includes a £2.5 billion investment over the next 10 years! The conversation around quantum technologies across the board is heating up – it should be noted though, with an impressive amount of foresight, that the UK’s £1 billion National Quantum Technologies Programme was kickstarted back in 2014.
“Alongside the framework, the Spring budget included £2.5 billion investment in QTs over the next 10-years, to be delivered by a new Quantum Strategy.”
As reported by PoliticsHome, Sunak’s words telegraph a real prominence for the government; it’s clear that Quantum Technologies are expected to shape our society. However, their development will be costly and will inevitably offer challenges alongside myriad opportunities. What are those opportunities? The potential of Quantum Technologies is the ability to brute-force our biggest questions with processing power – far more than your desktop computer or the phone in your pocket could ever provide.
Advances in sensing and imagining, and communications and timing offer theoretical boosts for the near-future worker, but naysayers could consider a real boost to our economy – as PoliticsHome puts it, a “vibrant ecosystem around QTs that creates industrial growth and national prosperity”. One of the key challenges is that it’s a global game we’re playing, and some competitors already have a head start.
Quantum computing in the UK – the salt of the earth
Our traditional industries have been affected and impacted by the land on which we live: from fishing to mining and textiles, the UK has historically thrived due to what’s readily available, and how our culture has adapted. You’d be forgiven for thinking that quantum computing is all theoretical, but the UK has an ace in the hole. Despite Sunak’s announcement being dwarfed by China’s investments so far (estimated somewhere in the region of GBP 12 billion), Sunak can offer a material solution.
A key strength of the UK is its production capabilities – we have an internationally leading record of materials development; our photonics sector is worth £14.5 billion, while pharmaceuticals are currently valued at £40 billion.
The National Quantum Technologies Programme can heavily leverage the materials generated concerning photonics, alongside tech used in the semiconductor industry. Right now, this is a significant boon, as the requisite technology is readily available to Great Britain’s brightest minds – as quantum technologies advance, there’s a real chance that its potential could outpace what we produce.
The mission is clear for now: our government plans to invest where it can, and collaborate with the wider world when quantum technologies’ potential outreaches our national resources.
Do you have faith in the UK’s backing of Quantum Technologies? Where should we be focussing our finances? Sound off in the comments below!
Finding it hard to get your head around the complexities of quantum computing? Click here: https://quantumtech.media/2023/05/11/understanding-quantum-entanglement-the-einstein-podolsky-rosen-paradox-unraveled/