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.


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. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Quantum computing startup probed in report, securities suit
    From alleging wild falsehoods to questioning man behind the curtain, Scorpion stings hell out of IonQ

    Quantum computing startup IonQ is facing a securities fraud lawsuit after a barrage of accusations came to light in a blistering report from Scorpion Capital, which claims the company lied about the maturity (and even existence of) its quantum device in addition to a smattering of claimed financial fictions.

    The Scorpion Capital report, issued May 3, provides a rigorously scathing assessment of the IonQ technology, which is described as "a useless toy that can't even add 1+1" as assessed by internal experiments run by unnamed but numerous quantum experts hired by Scorpion and exhaustively detailed in the full report [PDF].

    It's not just the company's technology on the chopping block, either. Scorpion Capital calls the startup "a part-time side-hustle run by two academics," one of whom, CEO and founder, Peter Chapman, "appears to be making up his MIT educational credentials," something we'll get to momentarily.

    Continue reading
  • BT starts commercial trial of quantum secured London network
    3-year deal with Toshiba to run tech with customers across the CIty, West End, and Slough

    Updated BT and Toshiba have announced the trial of a commercial quantum secured metro network in London, set to run for three years to evaluate the use of the technology.

    The system, which is operational now, uses quantum key distribution (QKD) over standard fibre optic links to securely encrypt data.

    The London quantum secured metro network has netted accounting firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) as its first customer. The company will use the network to connect two of its sites in the capital, one at Canary Wharf in London's Docklands, and the other near London Bridge. However, BT said there will be other users over the three-year period of the trial.

    Continue reading
  • Quantum-tunneling memory could boost AI energy efficiency by 100x
    Boffins get excited about building better machine synapses

    There's a potential solution on the cards to the energy expenditure problems plaguing AI training, and it sounds simple: just strengthen the "synapses" that move electrons through a memory array. 

    Electrical and Systems Engineering Professor Shantanu Chakrabartty and two of his colleagues at Washington University in St Louis, USA, have authored a Nature-published paper explaining how they have used the natural properties of electrons to reduce the energy used to train machine learning models. 

    The project had the researchers trying to build a learning-in-memory synaptic array that had digital synapses that operated dynamically instead of statically, such that they only need energy when changing a state, but not to maintain one.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022