The UK Government has announced the backing of Britain’s first quantum computer as part its ambition to become the world’s first quantum-ready economy.
Backed by £10 million in funding, the computer will be hosted in Abington, Oxfordshire, with the aim of assisting businesses looking to adopt quantum technology in the future.
The tech could provide up to £4 billion of economic opportunities globally by 2024, and productivity gains resulting from quantum computing are expected to surpass over £341 billion globally within the next few decades.
In a statement, the government said: “Quantum computing offers the chance for businesses to find better or quicker ways to solve problems, many of which are not possible using standard computers.
“Industries including pharmaceuticals, aerospace and transport that substantially contribute to the UK economy are set to benefit most.
“This is because this technology could help them to accelerate the discovery of new drug treatments, improve the efficiency of global supply chains including across food, automotive and aerospace sectors, and cut road traffic in towns and cities, shortening people’s commuting times while reducing pollution levels – and benefiting people’s lives and businesses.”
The government says that the adoption of quantum technology would also result in new jobs, skills and knowledge across the country.
Currently, there are only a small number of quantum computing platforms being developed worldwide, which presents an opportunity for the UK to be at the forefront of this technology.
Speaking after the Quantum Summit, Science Minister Amanda Solloway, who announced the funding, said: “Our ambition is to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities.
“Therefore, I am delighted that companies across the country will have access to our first commercial quantum computer, to be based in Abingdon.
“This a key part of our plan to build back better using the latest technology, attract the brightest and best talent to the UK and encourage world-leading companies to invest here”
The computer will be produced by tech company Rigetti Computing, alongside Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Bristol and London-based quantum software start-up Phasecraft, as well as the University of Edinburgh.
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Chad Rigetti, CEO of Rigetti Computing, commented on the project: “We are excited to deliver the UK’s first quantum computer and help accelerate the development of practical algorithms and applications.
“By providing access to quantum hardware, the collaboration aims to unlock new capabilities within the thriving UK ecosystem of quantum information science researchers, start-ups, and enterprises who have already begun to explore the potential impact of quantum computing.”
The project is part of the government’s previous plan to attract the top talent and world-leading companies to the UK, beginning with the commitment of £93 million in funding for the establishment of A National Quantum Computing Centre in 2018.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, commented: “Quantum computers are extraordinary new tools with the potential to allow us to tackle previously insurmountable challenges, promising benefits for all of society through applications in areas such as drug discovery and traffic optimisation.
“The National Quantum Computing Centre will tackle the key bottlenecks in quantum computing by bringing together experts from across the UK’s outstanding research and innovation system from academia and industry to unlock the potential of this exciting new technology.”
The government says Rigetti’s funding is part of its “Quantum Technologies Challenge,” led by UK Research & Innovation. In June 2020, the government announced 38 new projects that are benefiting from over £70 million funding.