Boffins ask for £338m to fund quantum research. Here's £80m

Meanwhile, jocks in US Senate shove $1.275bn at field

The UK Treasury has decided that £80m is perfectly sufficient to support quantum research – a quarter of a billion less than what was asked for.

Norman Lamb MP, chair of the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee, bemoaned some impressive underfunding by the Treasury in a letter (PDF) sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of last week.

With the first phase of the UK's National Quantum Technologies Programme due to come to an end (at least as far as funding is concerned) in 2019, the Strategic Advisory Board suggested that £338m might be appropriate for phase 2.

The request likely had treasury ministers passing tea through their nostrils in surprise, and the UK government responded by allocating £80m for what it called "National Quantum Technology Hubs".

Quantum technology is one of the industrial challenges the UK government has identified in a paper published in May 2017 as needing tackling (along with the likes of driverless cars and advanced robotics). As is the norm for anything involving the word "quantum", the paper enthusiastically suggested that the technology, when it ever truly emerges from the world of vaporware, could transform industry, boost defence, make telecoms great and sprinkle the world with magical fairy dust.

Lamb conceded that the proposed funding will help keep the skills built by the research sector, and that money from the National Physical Laboratory would see a "small number of demonstrator projects" created. However, he said more investment would be needed to maintain the momentum.

US to take a quantum leap

While letters fly to and fro within Whitehall, lawmakers on the other side of the pond have pressed ahead with the approval of the National Quantum Initiative Act unanimously by the US House of Representatives.

The Act, H.R. 6227 (PDF), must now make its way through the US Senate, and at least one chipmaker is cheering it on, hoping that the bipartisan support enjoyed thus far will continue.

The Act is broken down into several parts. It first calls on the president to implement a 10-year National Quantum Initiative Program, designed to accelerate technology research and build up a workforce with the necessary skills.

It will see $400m invested at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (spread over five years to the tune of $80m a year); $250m at a Quantum Information Science Research and Education Program to teach the subject; and finally $625m will be spent by the Secretary of Energy in $125m chunks from fiscal year 2019 through 2023 on a Quantum Information Science Research Program.

At $1.275bn, the figures involved dwarf the amount proposed by the UK treasury, although the Senate may well choose to tinker with the numbers in much the same way as Britain's Chancellor.

The Register contacted the UK Science and Technology Committee to get their thoughts, but we have yet to receive a response. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022