The UK’s first quantum computer to be commercially available to businesses will be located in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, Science Minister Amanda Solloway was announced on Wednesday 2nd September 2020.
The new machine will be developed alongside experts from Oxford, London, Bristol and Edinburgh, and forms part of the Minister’s radical ambition for the UK to become the world’s first quantum-ready economy.
Backed by £10 million government and industry investment, this new machine will strengthen the UK’s offer to businesses wanting to explore how they could harness the power of quantum computing in the future.
Quantum computing offers the chance for businesses to find better or quicker ways to solve problems, many of which are not possible using standard computers. Industries including pharmaceuticals, aerospace and transport that substantially contribute to the UK economy are set to benefit most. This is because this technology could help them to accelerate the discovery of new drug treatments, improve the efficiency of global supply chains including across food, automotive and aerospace sectors, and cut road traffic in towns and cities, shortening people’s commuting times while reducing pollution levels – and benefiting people’s lives and businesses.
By 2024, quantum computing is expected to provide £4 billion of economic opportunities globally, while in the coming decades productivity gains resulting from quantum computing are expected to surpass over £341 billion globally – resulting in new jobs, skills and knowledge across the UK.
The new quantum computer will be developed by leading tech company Rigetti Computing, which also developed a cloud-based platform allowing computer programmers to write quantum algorithms. It will work alongside Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Bristol and London-based quantum software start-up Phasecraft, as well as the University of Edinburgh.
Rigetti’s decision to base the computer in the UK is testament to the country’s strong network of leading companies and talent focused on this emerging technology.
CEO of Rigetti Computing Chad Rigetti said, “We are excited to deliver the UK’s first quantum computer and help accelerate the development of practical algorithms and applications. By providing access to quantum hardware, the collaboration aims to unlock new capabilities within the thriving UK ecosystem of quantum information science researchers, start-ups, and enterprises who have already begun to explore the potential impact of quantum computing.”
Speaking at the Quantum Summit and marking the start of London Tech Week today Science Minister Amanda Solloway also set out the government’s ambition for the UK to become the first quantum-ready economy in the world. “This bold new move will make sure the UK is taking advantage of these technologies and that they underpin industries and business models, delivering economic and societal benefits for all, while nurturing talent and expertise and creating new jobs across the UK.” Driving the UK towards its quantum-ready ambition, Minster Solloway also launched the UK’s National Quantum Computer Centre, based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, which will place the UK at the forefront of this transformative new technology.
The Centre will bring together academia, businesses and the government to address key challenges to quantum computing, such as scaling-up this technology, making it commercially viable and exploring how they can create economic value. Working closely with industry and the research community, the Centre will also provide businesses and research institutions with access to quantum computers as they are developed around the world and grow the UK’s thriving quantum computing industry.