TQI Exclusive: Gemma Peck, Director of Business Growth at BEIS on The UK National Quantum Strategy

National Strategy

Last week’s conference at Quantum.Tech in Twickenham, London was a great opportunity for The Quantum Insider to meet with colleagues, network and find out more about what’s new and exciting in the world of quantum technology.

After registering and the welcome address to kick off the two-day event, Gemma Peck — the Director of Business Growth at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) — got up for her talk: “The UK’s national strategy: delivering our ambitions for quantum science and technologies”.

Peck, who joined BEIS as Director for Business Growth and the Office for Artificial Intelligence in March 2020, leads the department’s work to support small businesses to start and scale, improve access to finance and enable emerging technology to thrive in the UK.

Peck made it clear at the off that the last few weeks had been a busy one due to the appointment of Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister. She then got straight down to it, highlighting her department’s role in the UK’s technological roadmap, particularly in quantum.

“What we know is that quantum technologies will play a critical role in enhancing our security and prosperity in the UK with many particular applications in the sector,” Peck began. “That’s why the government will publish a national strategy for quantum later this year, saying how we want to work with the industry over the next ten years for the development of this area in the UK.”

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BEIS’s Director continued by saying they will start the next ten-year phase from a position of real strength, informing the audience at that point that every time she’s attended such an event there was always more exciting news to share.

“There are more novel technologies coming to trial, and ultimately to market,” said Peck. “Usually with tongue-tying technical descriptions that really test me.” One of these was the launch of the first commercial trial for the quantum-secured communications service in London by BT and Toshiba, which Peck said would provide data services secured by quantum key distribution (QKD) and post-quantum cryptography.

Peck also mentioned the launch of Rigetti’s first UK-based quantum computer available to partners over the cloud, remarking it fulfills one goal of the project for the UK’s quantum technologies’ challenge, as well as the announcement of sixteen projects, from quantum sensing technology that can detect subterranean objects to quantum tech able to enhance telecoms network optimization, proving the UK is competing globally with other countries that have their own dedicated quantum programs in place.

Building on Solid Foundations

Looking to the future, Peck brought up the UK National Quantum Strategy, thanking everybody first who had contributed to it:

“The strategy will build on the strong research and industrial foundations of the UK by expanding our investment in the new discovery and innovation activities. We’re very proud of the national quantum technologies program and we’re setting out how we will set out building it,” Peck began. “Our goal is, by growing the sector over the next decade, quantum technologies will become widely used, driving innovation, invention and competitiveness in the UK’s most important sectors. To be able to achieve this, we know we need to achieve ‘push and pull’. Sustained investment is required for the development and growth of the industry and,” Peck pointed out very astutely, “the wider UK economy and government need to be ready to buy and use quantum technologies.”

Peck talked about the importance of partnerships, and how they lay the groundwork for future endeavours and successes. But she went further, stating the government wants to help vendors design ambitious, government-funded missions which bring together the public and private sectors that demonstrate these technologies, ultimately applying them to national and global challenges.

It was just what this audience — made up mostly of commercial representatives of the quantum industry — wanted to hear and was a good start to Quantum.Tech London.

For more market insights, check out our latest quantum computing news here.

James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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