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TQI Exclusive: 2023’s The City Quantum Summit on a Mission to Create an Accessible, Inclusive and Entrepreneurial Quantum Community

The City Quantum Summit 2023

The City Quantum Summit 2023 will take place on Monday, October 2 at the Mansion House. The event brings together the City and the Quantum Community in the heart of the City of London for the third time. We talked to Karina Robinson, CEO of Redcliffe Advisory, founder of The City Quantum Summit and senior adviser to Multiverse Computing, about this year’s edition of this unique quantum event, designed to take an inclusive approach that invites all elements of science and society to help usher in the quantum era.

What’s the mission of The City Quantum Summit?

I’m glad you mentioned the word ‘mission’ for it truly is that! Our mission three years ago was to create a small conference – around 200 people, with only 60 at dinner – where CEOs, Chairs and the C-suite in financial service firms would meet and hear from their peers in quantum firms. Three years on our rules are the same: no lingo, no jargon from any panelist. As a result, they convey in English understandable to the lay person why end users should adopt and invest in quantum technologies.

Why is it always at the Mansion House, the home of the Lord Mayor of the City of London?

Too many conferences consist of quantum people talking to each other in charmless venues of interchangeable homogeneity. We wanted to create deals and business opportunities for the industry in the heart of the City of London. And the heart of City of London is right here in the Mansion House a British gilded palace, but one that is truly global in its outlook: it houses the Egyptian Hall, complete with Roman statues, and in the other rooms you will see one of the finest collections of Dutch Old Master paintings.  The conference attracts increasing numbers of major decision makers from those far-sighted companies that already embrace quantum or may be thinking of it.

What excites you most about the Summit this year?

The Summit’s vision has always been very matter of fact in growing the quantum ecosphere. But there has to be room for the madness of the science – for surely there is a craziness to entanglement, a mind-blowing unreality to superposition? Thus The City Quantum Summit commissioned a film on quantum from artist Marina Landia with music by techno musician Ila, which he composed on Amazon’s Braket. I can promise you a movie premiere to end all premieres at its showing on October 2nd!

The Head of the NATO Innovation Fund is giving a keynote. How does the military fit into the equation?

I was involved in brainstorming NATO’s Quantum Strategy over two sessions this spring. I am a total believer in dual purpose technology, civilian and military, and the many synergies to be achieved in collaboration. Additionally, the threat to our imperfect democracies with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought home the importance of keeping NATO at the forefront of technological innovation.

Quantum technology is such an advanced technology — will attendees be mainly scientists?

No, no, no! The quantum world has more than its fair share of them, but panels are generally moderated by VIP ‘outsiders’. Their names ensure bankers, business people and other non-scientists feel comfortable attending in person or online.

For instance, Diana Brightmore-Armour, CEO of the UK’s 350-year old private bank, C Hoare & Co. chairs the panel on Financing Quantum – dream or nightmare?; William McDonnell, COO of the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) chairs the panel on using quantum for environmental purposes; while lawyer Julia Black OBE, who is member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Science and Technology, chairs the panel on AI & Quantum – Today and Tomorrow.

And we are hosted by Alderman and Professor Michael Mainelli, who will be Lord Mayor (Ambassador) for the City of London from November.

If your business isn’t directly tied to quantum, is there any value for business leaders to attend?

There is no such thing as a business that won’t benefit. At its most basic, quantum is about simulation and optimisation, and beneficial for sectors as diverse, for example, as drug discovery or supply chains, or in de-risking financial portfolios and undersea sensing.

There is also no such thing as a business that won’t be harmed by its decryption potential.

The City Quantum Summit has already gained a reputation as a persuasive advocate for democratization and inclusion within the quantum community. Can we expect more in this year’s summit?

Without a community effort to strengthen Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) we are going to create an ecosphere of $450-$850 billion a dozen years from now which will suffer from group think and exclusionary practices.

Therefore the Summit is sticking to its two principles of free for all comers, to ensure students and young professionals attend, and gender balance on all panels.

We are holding the annual brainstorming D&I lunch. It counts on the participation of the London School of Economics’s (LSE) The Inclusion Initiative, an institute that creates inclusive cultures in businesses, and DiviQ (what’s that?), the new D&I organisation for the quantum industry, as well as City Big Wigs like Michael Cole-Fontayn, Board member at JP Morgan Securities and a great advocate for the cause.

Last year we produced a LSE briefing and we hope to do the same this year.

What’s special about the dinner?

It’s in the Old Ballroom amid gilded candelabras –a striking contraposition of tradition with the latest technology – and will feature a conversation between whurley of Strangeworks and Dame Elisabeth Corley, Chair of Schroders and the Impact Investing Institute. Boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg, with its Deep Tech specialty, is kindly sponsoring it.

Tell us about the panels — it looks like quite a list of experts and thought leaders.

We have stalwarts like Jay Lowell of Boeing, Roman Orus of Multiverse Computing, Nadia Carlsten of SandboxAQ, Lory Thorpe of GSMA, Denise Ruffner of Women in Quantum, Luke Ibbetson of Vodafone, Carmen Palacios-Berraquero of NuQuantum, Scott Faris of Infleqtion, llana Wisby of OQC investors like Candace Johnson of Seraphim, Stuart Woods of Quantum Exponential, Ekaterina Almasque of Open Ocean; for financial applications Georgios Korpas of HSBC and Michael Dascal of Fidelity; for pharmaceuticals Lene Oddershede of Novo Nordisk.

Any new features at The City Quantum Summit 2023?

We are delighted to support the Institute for Physics (IOP) and Quantum Exponentials’ qBIG award to Cerca Magnetics, as well as its call for applications for the 2024 prize. And delighted too that our Media Partners are once again The Quantum Insider and Quantum London!

For registration, click here.

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Matt Swayne

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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