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UK Quantum Firms Team Up For DISCOVERY, a £10 Million Research Program

M Squared’s lasers are used in more than 90% of active efforts in cold matter-based quantum computing projects. The company announced it’s leading a consortium of UK companies to develop quantum tech. (Image: M Squared).

Nine organizations from the UK’s quantum industry recently announced the launch of DISCOVERY – the largest industry-led quantum computing project in Britain to date,.

DISCOVERY represents a £10m research program designed to address technology barriers to commercial quantum computing. The program is part-funded by the UK Quantum Technologies Challenge, led by UK Research and Innovation.

M Squared, who already supplies photonics and quantum systems around the world, will coordinate DISCOVERY alongside eight partner organizations that are leaders in their respective fields including neutral atom, ion trap and optical qubit approaches to quantum computing. The multidisciplinary consortium includes start-ups, established businesses, academic institutions, and research and technology organizations with a strong track record in quantum-computing hardware development and both the collective expertise and capabilities to overcome the technical barriers to commercial quantum computing.

This three-year project is now underway as the result of a successful bid into Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund call – ‘Commercializing Quantum Technology: Technology Projects Round 1’. For project DISCOVERY all of the industrial partners, including M Squared, Oxford Ionics, ORCA Computing, Kelvin Nanotechnology and TMD Technologies, will work closely with the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Oxford, along with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

At present, there are several promising approaches to commercially viable quantum computing – this project will specifically address three methods enabled by photonics that offer the highest fidelities demonstrated to date: neutral atom, ion trap and optical qubits. These approaches represent the state-of-the-art in demonstrated hardware; however, barriers to commercial deployment remain with the challenge of increasing both qubit fidelity and qubit scalability. The program will demonstrate a shift from fundamental, academic activity to scalable, commercial implementations.

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Another core objective of DISCOVERY is to develop the wider UK quantum-computing sector, and therefore the project will also support in establishing commercial hardware supply and roadmaps for industrial deployment of these technologies. The selected partners have extensive experience in the sector and can already demonstrate commercial deployment of relevant technologies across the global market for quantum information systems.

Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for the Quantum Technologies Challenge, said: “This investment comes under the umbrella of the UK National Quantum Technologies Program which is set to make a £1B investment over its lifetime. The Discovery team exemplifies the vibrant ecosystem which is a hallmark of the UK quantum sector and its technical expertise – which is impressive – is well matched with commercial nous and in-depth market knowledge.”

Graeme Malcolm OBE, CEO and founder of M Squared, said: “The DISCOVERY project will help the UK establish itself at the forefront of commercially viable photonics-enabled quantum-computing approaches. It will enable industry to capitalise on the government’s early investment into quantum technology and build on our strong academic heritage in photonics and quantum information. The coming era of quantum technology will play a major, transformative role in both the economy and society alike. It is therefore critical that the UK leverages its expertise in science, research and advanced industry to come together and make progress in commercial applications.”

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With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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