Fund aims to catalyse UK public sector quantum computing

quantum catalyst fund Image credit: Bartlomiej K. Wroblewski

The first wave of projects aiming to increase the adoption of quantum computing in the public sector has been unveiled by the government and Innovate UK.

Notable players in Britain’s quantum computing space, including Riverlane and Cambridge Quantum Computing, are among those sharing a £15m prize funding pot.

The Quantum Catalyst Fund aims to identify where quantum solutions can be adopted for the “public benefit”.

The 30 projects selected for phase one of the competition, set to last three months, will share a £2m funding pot. The most promising concepts will progress to develop a prototype in phase two, which has a budget of £13m and will last up to 15 months.

Projects include harnessing quantum computing for genomic research, energy grid optimisation, brain imaging and chemical energy storage.

The Quantum Catalyst Fund is being delivered by the public sector agency Innovate UK in conjunction with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

“We are determined to continue to invest and lead from the front in quantum infrastructure, regulation, standards and skills to fully exploit its potential to drive new economic opportunities,” said George Freeman MP, minister of state for science, technology and innovation.

“Our Quantum Catalyst Fund will help to push the boundaries of this technology’s development, and use public sector procurement to help nurture new companies and deliver benefits for citizens in public services to benefit us all.”

The projects are being run by startups, scaleups and universities. Among those is Delta G, a University of Birmingham spinout developing quantum sensors to map out the Earth’s subsurface and unknown places. It recently raised £1.5m.

Another is Orca Computing, which develops quantum hardware and software and has secured contracts with the Ministry of Defence.

Quantum computers use subatomic particles that can exist in more than one state, which means they can carry out multiple calculations at once compared to the linear calculations of classical computers.

The promise they hold to revolutionise sectors such as finance and drug discovery has made it a priority area for the UK government.

In March, it published the National Quantum Strategy, which commits £2.5bn over 10 years to develop quantum technologies in the UK.

Listen: Why quantum computing is the next industrial revolution, with the CPO of Quantinuum