TQI Exclusive: Karina Robinson — City Quantum Summit Designed to ‘Bring Together the City’ on Quantum

Mansion House
Mansion House

TQI Exclusive: Karina Robinson — City Quantum Summit Designed to ‘Bring Together the City’ on Quantum

Insider Brief:

The Quantum Insider talked to Karina Robinson, the CEO of Robinson Hambro Ltd. and a thought leader in the quantum space, on The City Quantum Summit, a summit that celebrates the breadth, depth and diversity of  London’s quantum community.  The summit is designed for anyone interested in quantum, not just quantum specialists. Here’s what she had to say:

TQI: What is the mission of the City Quantum Summit?

Robinson: The mission of The City Quantum Summit is summarised in the name: to bring together the City, shortcut for the financial and professional services sector, and the quantum sector. Too often the quantum world seems to be talking to itself! It is a great ecosphere, full of fascinating, fun, intelligent people, and we love talking to our mates, but to advance the science – and to bring in revenues – we need to step outside our box and light up end users with the enthusiasm we all feel.

TQI: It’s interesting how this is positioned in regard to the quantum community — for example, it’s for “Bankers, investors, scientists, consultants, lawyers, students, and the curious. Especially Board members.” Why such a broad group?

Robinson: As a community, we need to demystify quantum. Every panellist at The City Quantum Summit is under strict instructions to avoid jargon. The portfolio manager with assets under management of over a billion dollars, sitting quietly in the audience, does not need to know about superposition, about Schrodinger’s cat, or even about qubits! They need to know how quantum can help deliver portfolio optimisation on steroids.

I wrote an Opinion column for the Financial Times on why Board Members should guard against being left behind in the quantum revolution. Boards are preoccupied by net zero, by cybersecurity, and by productivity. Quantum can help on all those fronts. Readers of The Quantum Insider know that. Boards of non-Deep Tech companies don’t, so it is important to help them realise it. Not least as they have control of the money tap.

TQI: The Mansion House seems an odd venue for a conference on quantum?

Robinson: The UK is currently awash with tradition, as we mourn Queen Elizabeth II’s death. Have you noticed that the whole world is watching? One should never underestimate the value, and the attraction, of history. The 693rd Lord Mayor, Vincent Keaveny, will open The City Quantum Summit at the Mansion House, his palatial home in the heart of the City of London. The marriage of institutions that have made it through the centuries with the most innovative of technologies is irresistible.

And I, for one, am fed up with going to conferences in hotel basements or characterless conference centres with abysmal transport links.

TQI: Why is this discussion about quantum so important? Why the interest?

Robinson: The advances in quantum over the last 12 months are breath-taking. Real value is being delivered today to companies as diverse as Bosch, Itau and BASF – I say that wearing my hat as a Senior Advisor to Multiverse Computing. They and other companies in this sphere need to communicate their advances to a wider audience, as the myth that quantum is still solely to do with academic experimentation persists. That’s why The City Quantum Summit has the great and the good of the City on panels:  it sends a clear message to their peers that quantum matters.

TQI: Why is diversity so important for quantum?

Robinson: There are two reasons diversity is key for the quantum sector. One is purely practical. There is a huge shortage of talent in the sector – not just quantum scientists, but software engineers, salespeople, HR specialists et al. There is a war for talent – and post-Covid, the talent gap has widened even more. Jack Hidary, CEO of SandboxAQ, put it very clearly last year: ”When people ask, ‘what keeps me up at night?’ – that’s what keeps me up at night: the lack of a talent pipeline in quantum and the also the lack of diversity in that pipeline.” The only way to balance the demand/supply equation is to widen the talent pool by increasing its diversity.

Secondly, the importance of the industry and its capacity for evil applications makes diversity, equity and inclusion crucial. Just take a look at social media, one of the biggest industries, one that has exploded over the last decade. It has undermined our democracies through management solely focused on profitability at the expense of accountability, while ignoring other stakeholders. There is no doubt that the source of the problem was management recruiting in its own image, again and again.

The explosive growth in the quantum world means we should learn from other sectors that have come before us and implant ethical frameworks and behaviours – a much more likely outcome if the voices around the table are more diverse.

That is why gender balance is one of the two principles of The City Quantum Summit, and why whurley is moderating a brainstorming session on DEI to raise funds for Denise Ruffner’s Quantum Women, and why we will come out with a report on steps to take signed by The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics.

TQI: Are there certain aspects of the summit that you want to call out?

Robinson: Firstly, it is free, both in person and online, to encourage students and young professionals to participate. Could I ask all your readers to forward the article or the link to any university contacts they have.

Secondly, we in the industry owe a huge debt to governments, from the UK to the US, from Germany to Israel, from France to India. That is why we hope to have at the Summit the UK’s new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Philps – otherwise called the City Minister, an entrepreneur who studied physics at Oxford.

TQI: What will the format be?

Robinson: We open with a brainstorming lunch for only 40 at the Walbrook Club, a jewel-like City institution, to raise funds for quantum pioneer Denise Ruffner’s Quantum Women. Denise Wilson OBE, CEO of in the FTSE Women Leaders will be speaking, moderated by quantum legend whurley of Strangeworks and Professor Grace Lordan of the LSE. The final product will be a report published by The Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics.

We then move to the Mansion House where Lord Mayor Vincent Keaveny welcomes participants, followed by 4 gender-balanced panels on quantum and its uses. Panellists include City stalwarts Edward Braham, Chairman of M&G Investors and Angela Knight CBE, Chair of Pool Re; CEOs of home-grown quantum firms like Carmen Palacios-Berraquero of NuQuantum, American quantum CEOs like Rob Hays of Atom Computing, and Spanish CEOs like Enrique Lizaso of Multiverse Computing and Co-Founder Roman Orus; long time quantum enthusiasts like Stuart Woods, MD of Oxford Instruments and Jon Hammant, Head of Compute at Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the UK, as well as Deep Tech investors & bankers like Morgan Polotan of B Capital and Max Mesny of Perella Weinberg Partners.

Marco Pistoia of JP Morgan Chase, Eman Martin-Vignerte of Bosch, Marielle van de Pol of Roche, Jay Lowell of Boeing, and Elena Sbrac of Standard Chartered will explain how they are using quantum for financial advantage here and now! 

An invitation-only cocktail with a keynote by the UK’s Father of Quantum, Sir Peter Knight, is followed by an invitation-only dinner in the Old Ballroom of the Mansion House, with a conversation between City legend Xavier Rolet KBE and Priya Guha MBE, former Consul to San Francisco, board member of Innovate UK and Deep Tech investor.

Media Partners are The Quantum Insider and Quantum London.

Matt Swayne

Matt Swayne

Matt Swayne is a contributor at The Quantum Insider. He focuses on breaking news about quantum discoveries and quantum computing.

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