The UK government has confirmed £20 million funding for businesses and researchers to pioneer the use of ground-breaking quantum technologies. The announcement was made recently.
The government has confirmed this fund will be available to support the development of between 3 and 5 prototype quantum-enabled devices that could be used in future sensors, consumer electronics and digital services. This includes the next generation of navigation systems that could operate without GPS, cameras that can see round corners and truly trust-worthy methods of exchanging data are 3 of the devices and systems that could be developed in the next quantum revolution, led by UK companies and researchers.
The March announcement is as part of the £270 million investment of the UK national quantum technologies programme, EPSRC funded a national network of Quantum Technology Hubs. This focuses on £120 million investment in four hubs that will explore the properties of quantum mechanics and how they can be harnessed for use in technology.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
The investment part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which brings together world-leading research with businesses to take on the major societal and economic challenges of our time. Funding will be used to establish whether more significant future funding could help UK businesses to establish a global advantage.
Business Secretary Greg Clark stated.
“Throughout the centuries Britain has led the world in creating new products and services and this new £20 million investment will enable us to be at the forefront of discovering new innovations that could change the world.”
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy we are investing in the newest technologies, which will create the high-value, high skilled jobs ensuring we build a Britain fit for the future.”
Reaction From UK Scientific Community
Speaking at a National Physical Laboratory quantum industry dinner, Interim Challenge Director Sir Peter Knight, claimed:
“In order to secure the UK lead in this area and make sure that UK companies take a significant share of this large future sector, we must act now with a focus more than ever on working across the spectrum of industry, academia and across government to achieve innovation.”
The Pioneer Challenge will develop our industrial base, integrated with UK research. The rise of quantum technologies will have a huge impact on all our lives.
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is the greatest single increase in government research and development funding for almost 40 years, and will deliver the science that business needs to build on our industrial strengths and deliver economic impact, jobs and growth right across the country. It will play a central role in achieving the Government’s commitment to raising the UK’s public and private spend on research and development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
Case Studies of Quantum Technologies Research and Innovation Projects
Cold atoms space payload (CASPA)
Developments in quantum technology allow cold atoms – cooled down near to absolute zero using lasers – to be used in highly precise sensors for measuring gravity.
A team led by Teledyne e2v is developing a small satellite payload to generate cold atoms in space (CASPA). The CASPA project involves the translation of leading UK science into a core technology. A demonstration of the core technology in space would represent an important step towards the future realisation of instruments that can map the changes in gravity across the Earth. As gravity can vary minutely depending on the Earth’s composition at a given point, this, in turn, would allow for applications in Earth observation, for instance enabling the accurate monitoring of polar ice, ocean currents and water sources across the globe.
Single Pixel Imaging Technology (QUANTIC)
Researchers at QuantiC have developed imaging technology using a single pixel camera that is capable of seeing through smoke, visualising gas leaks and capturing high precision 3D images.
The technology combines low-cost micro-mirror arrays and image reconstruction algorithms to capture video-rate images of a scene faster than any existing scanning system.
Working in collaboration with industry partners, such as specialised laser company M Squared Lasers and global engineering company Leonardo, QuantiC have developed prototypes for invisible gas sensing and computational 3D LIDAR systems with potential routes to commercialisation that will have a market impact in the heavy industry and defence and security sectors.
Going Deeper Underground (UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology)
Physicists and civil engineers at the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology, in collaboration with industrial partners such as Te2v and RSK, are developing quantum gravity sensors to locate utilities buried underground without having to excavate.
The sensors have the potential to speed up the location process one hundred fold and lead to annual savings to the UK economy of several hundreds of millions of pounds.
The work builds on 2 major EPSRC-funded projects led by civil engineers at the University of Birmingham, which made huge strides in the development of a shared multisensor platform through the application of technologies such as vibro-acoustics, passive magnetic fields and ground penetrating radar.
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