Consortium wins landmark £7m grant to boost quantum technologies

Published: 24 April 2020

University of Glasgow researchers are part of a new consortium which has won the largest-ever grant from the UK Government aimed at commercialising quantum technologies.

University of Glasgow researchers are part of a new consortium which has won the largest-ever grant from the UK Government aimed at commercialising quantum technologies.

Innovate UK has awarded £7m to a team led by Oxford Quantum Circuits to produce superconducting circuits at commercial scale in the UK. The project brings together researchers from the University of Glasgow and Kelvin Nanotechnology with Oxford Instruments, SeeQCUK, and the Royal Holloway University in London.

The consortium will industrialise the design, manufacture and test of superconducting quantum devices. This is the first time a concerted effort will bring all relevant partners across industry and academia towards establishing such capability in the UK. 

Multiple commercial streams are expected through cryogenic measurements as a service, superconducting device foundry as a service, quantum computing as a service and the sale of quantum devices. The consortium will develop foundry and measurement services, which will underpin major commercial developments across the economy.

Superconducting hardware is critical for the development of quantum technologies, delivering transformative products for sensing, security and information processing. 

However, fabricating these superconducting circuits, accessing specialist cryogenic equipment and developing state-of-the-art test electronics remain highly technical and expensive undertakings. The significant up-front investment required represents a large barrier to entry to most companies in the UK, preventing the country from leading the way on quantum technologies, a market expected to reach nearly £15 Billion by 2024 globally, with £233 Million for superconducting devices alone.

The grant signals the UK’s ambition to lead the international race to commercialise quantum technologies to the benefit of the economy and society.

Dr Ilana Wisby, CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits said, “With this grant, Innovate UK is sending a strong message: the country has missed opportunities to drive commercial impact from its enviable scientific base in the past, but it won’t miss the quantum revolution. Our project is critical to positioning the UK at the forefront of the quantum industry, bringing in jobs and investment, and delivering a domestic supply of a technology of national strategic importance. Our consortium is uniquely positioned to deliver this project successfully”. 

The partners in the consortium have established a strong foundation of IP and know-how with previous Government support through the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. This project will harness those capabilities for the benefit of the commercial sector.

Professor Martin Weides, Head of the Quantum Circuit Group at the University of Glasgow, added: “This grant is vital to addressing today’s new pressing challenges to increase the technological readiness level of superconducting quantum circuits. Our long-standing collaboration with Oxford Instruments will be continued and strengthened by including novel nanofabrication techniques and providing cryogenic measurement services to the global quantum community. The University of Glasgow’s subsidiary and commercialisation partner Kelvin Nanotechnology will provide nanofabrication foundry services to the partners and commercial markets.”

Dr Ravi Sundaram, Head of Strategic R&D Oxford Instruments, said: “Oxford Instruments is delighted to be part of such a strong consortium and to play a key role in the development of robust Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) nano-fabrication processes for superconducting materials as well as establishing quantum measurement services using state of the art cryogenic and measurement solutions with our colleagues in Glasgow. We see commercial markets developing across the quantum technologies sector, where this consortium can leverage the exceptional research legacy in superconductivity in the UK to develop a significant supply chain for long term economic impact.” 

The project, supported by an international advisory board including commercial customers, will be launched in August 2020, with the first key deliverables expected in 2021.


First published: 24 April 2020

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