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US and UK sign quantum cooperation agreement

09 Nov 2021

Besides technology innovations, arrangement also covers market and supply chain development.

The US and UK Governments have issued a joint statement of intent to enhance cooperation on quantum information science and technology – a move intended to boost collaboration to help realize the full potential of quantum technologies and deepen ties between the countries.

Signed by U.S. Presidential Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, Dr. Eric Lander, and UK Science Minister, George Freeman, the quantum cooperation statement articulates “a shared vision to promote collaborative research efforts, enhance training opportunities for scientists and engineers, and grow the market for quantum technologies.”

The agreement comes alongside the four-year anniversary of the inaugural US-UK Science and Technology Agreement, and follows a recent call by US President Biden to “work together with our democratic partners to ensure that new advances in areas from biotechnology, to quantum computing are used to lift people up, to solve problems, and advance human freedom.”

Recently, both governments have mobilized to harness the potential of quantum information science and technology (QIST) through dedicated strategies, funding, and initiatives. The US National Quantum Initiative and the UK National Quantum Technologies Program both feature academic centers of excellence, industry consortia, and enhanced coordination of core research and development programs.

Dr. Eric Lander, the US President’s Science Advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, commented, “I am delighted we can deepen our relationship with the UK on quantum information science. By working together, we can broaden training opportunities, develop new applications for quantum technology, and think globally about how to maximize the benefits of these technologies for everyone.”

George Freeman, UK Science Minister, said, “Quantum technologies have enormous potential to revolutionize everything from helping to protect the environment to changing how we send and receive information, and the UK and US have been at the forefront of advancing this unique area of science.”

The joint statement will facilitate continued collaboration between the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) emphasizing metrology research and standards for quantum technologies including next-generation atomic clocks and quantum sensors.

UK announces £50 million funding for quantum projects

Begun 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 newly announced last week 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; and
  • UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Commercializing Quantum Technologies challenge has awarded almost £60 million to business-led quantum projects in 2021 alone.

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 the £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 commented, “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.”

UK Science Minister George Freeman added, “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.”

Other projects are focused on developing resilient quantum clocks to underpin critical services in financial trading, energy distribution and navigation.

III-V Epi stakes its claim in quantum supply chain

III-V Epi, a Glasgow, UK-based manufacturer of MBE and MOCVD, III-V epitaxial structures, will consolidate its position in the commercial, quantum technologies supply chain, following its involvement with the Innovate UK-funded, SHARK-VECSELs project. The £50,000 project is focused on next-generation quantum timing applications in strontium-atom-based, optical clocks.

Professor Richard Hogg, CTO of III-V Epi, said, “The SHARK-VECSELs project will set III-V Epi up to supply commercial, quantum solutions. Pre-prototype VECSELs have already been successfully produced, through a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde, National Quantum Technology Hub for Sensing and Timing, and the Midlands Ultracold Atom Research Centre.

“This knowledge will be shared with III-V Epi, before adding our own expertise in phosphide-based, semiconductor heterostructures and custom-designed vertical-external cavity surface-emitting lasers (VECSELs). We will go on to fabricate the quantum SHARK-VECSELs, which the University of Strathclyde will test.”

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