Phasecraft wins £1.2 million UK Government Contract to Develop Quantum Algorithms to Optimise Energy Grids 

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Insider Brief

  • Bristol and London-based quantum algorithms startup Phasecraft has won a UK government contract to explore using quantum computing to optimise energy grids as part of the Quantum Catalyst Fund.

  • Phasecraft’s contract is one of six projects taken through to Phase 2 of the competition.

  • The Quantum Catalyst Fund aims to accelerate the adoption of quantum technologies throughout the public sector.

Phasecraft – the startup led by top academics developing world-leading quantum algorithms – has won a £1.2 million UK Government contract as part of the UK’s Quantum Catalyst Fund.

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Phase One of the Fund saw Phasecraft awarded a contract for a feasibility study to explore the application of quantum computing to optimisation problems within energy grids. Following the successful completion of Phase 1, Phase 2 of this project will see Phasecraft work with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to prioritise and attempt to address such optimisation problems with quantum solutions. The project began on 1 January, 2024.

Science Minister, Andrew Griffith MP, said: “As we steer towards an economy benefitting from quantum, this further £45 million in funding underscores our commitment to support bright UK innovators who are pushing boundaries and seizing the potential of this technology to transform our public services. Cutting-edge work on a quantum enabled brain scanner, which will be a beacon of hope for those battling neurological conditions, is just one example.

“The UK is already one global leader in quantum and to maintain that position this government will continue to invest in this transformational technology propelling the UK into a new era of technological prowess and economic growth.’

Exploring quantum’s potential to enable innovation

Phasecraft designs novel quantum algorithms to solve real-world problems on the imperfect quantum computers of today, aiming to accelerate the widespread adoption of quantum computing from decades to years away. Its algorithms are based on novel insights from theoretical physics and computer science, and Phasecraft’s early focus is on applying these algorithmic improvements to modelling and simulation problems, such as the discovery of new materials, and optimisation problems, including problems that are important in the design and use of complex energy grids.

Optimising energy grids is a problem of particular importance at the governmental level in the UK. The majority of individuals and businesses rely on constant energy for their day-to-day activity, meaning avoiding outages and re-routing energy in the case of extreme weather events is critical. Building and maintaining grid connections is also extremely expensive, costing up to £1.5 million per km of line, which is why determining the optimal layout and usage of the network’s growing infrastructure is important to keeping costs as low as possible for the taxpayer and consumer.

However, running the grid is becoming increasingly complex, with the demand for electricity set to double by 2040 and with millions of smaller renewable generators connecting to the grid. This complexity means the traditional algorithms used to optimise the grid are no longer fit for purpose. Phasecraft will look to develop quantum solutions to this problem and will work with the Supergen Energy Networks Hub and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as part of the contract.

The new contract comes on the back of a successful year for the startup which raised £13M in Series A funding in August to reach practical quantum advantage – when quantum computers outperform classical computers for useful real-world applications.

Ashley Montanaro, co-founder and CEO of Phasecraft, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this new contract to develop quantum algorithms for solving hard optimisation problems relevant to energy grids as part of the UK’s Quantum Catalyst Fund. The grid is coming under increasing pressure as part of the move to Net Zero, and handling this complexity and improving resilience against vulnerabilities is a significant computational challenge. Quantum computing has the potential to solve important problems in a number of sectors, not least the public sector, and we’re glad that the UK Government shares this belief.”

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

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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