UK.gov has £12m to help kick-start quantum techs that could be 'adopted at scale' – which is pretty niche, if we're honest

Brave investors would have to match awards four times over


The UK government yesterday waved around some pocket change aimed at making forever-nearly-here quantum technologies a reality.

The plan is to take a £12m chunk from the £153m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and invest it in quantum technologies that would leave traditional investors cold from a risk standpoint, but still have "clear potential to be adopted at scale".

That's quite niche as far as quantum is concerned.

That £12m is being managed by Innovate UK, which is on the hunt for investors to add their own cash to grants dished out to deserving quantum businesses.

The government breathlessly speculated on the applications of a "second generation of quantum technologies based on new quantum effects" in which Blighty could be a leader. We asked what it thought the first generation was and what these "new" effects actually were, but have yet to receive a response.

Quantum technology, not unlike practical fusion power generation (something the government stuffed £20m into earlier this month), is one of those things that promises much, but has singularly failed to deliver. The funding amounts on offer are, frankly, drops in the ocean compared to how much the likes of Microsoft have invested over the years.

Still, the potential is enormous for whoever makes the tech a commercial reality and the government listed applications such as connectivity, situational awareness and computing as things Innovate UK will be looking for. It reckoned that "seeing things currently invisible" was another thing quantum could do.

Amazing.

Excited spurtings aside, the awards, which should be between £250k and £2m, are aimed at tech that could actually become something tangible.

The catch is that investors scooping up the award must put their money where their mouth is and match that cash in the years 2020 to 2024. Furthermore, the government expects a commitment of follow-on funding of at least three times the original grant amount be ploughed into a successful quantum business by investors.

The first round (and there will likely be more) of the competition opens on 19 August and registration closes just over a month later on 25 September.

So fill your boots. Or set fire to your money. It's quantum, baby. ®

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