• Wed. Nov 22nd, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    The Evolution of UK Quantum Technology: Embracing Global Collaboration

    ByByron Bekker

    Nov 13, 2023
    The Evolution of UK Quantum Technology: Embracing Global Collaboration

    The UK Quantum Technology Showcase, Season Nine, brought together the country’s quantum ecosystem in London on 2 Nov for its annual gathering. The event, which has grown in scale over the years, showcased the evolving priorities of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme as it prepares for the next decade.

    This year, the showcase adopted a more professional ‘trade show’ format, with a shift towards marketing stands rather than physical lab demonstrators. According to Prof Dominic O’Brien, the UK Quantum Communication Hub Director, there is no longer a need to convince people about the reality of quantum technology.

    The UK was the first country to launch a national program dedicated to promoting and coordinating government investment in quantum technology in partnership with academia and the emerging quantum start-up community. This approach has since been emulated by other nations around the world.

    The recent showcase marked the release of the UK Government’s updated National Quantum Strategy, which will guide the program for the next ten years. This raises questions about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the UK ecosystem and how it will be perceived by investors and potential adopters.

    International collaboration has emerged as a central theme in the UK’s quantum strategy. At the showcase, significant partnerships between the UK and the Netherlands were announced, along with a quantum agreement between the UK and Australia. These collaborations with quantum tech powerhouses demonstrate the UK’s commitment to global engagement and knowledge exchange.

    While these agreements are promising, their impact on the ground remains to be seen. However, the existing UK-Canadian collaboration serves as a positive example, with several cutting-edge joint projects already underway. Recapturing the momentum in partnerships with the European Union, specifically through the Horizon Europe program, may prove more challenging for the UK. Certain restrictions on participation in non-space related quantum calls may hamper the UK’s involvement in critical areas of quantum research and development.

    Furthermore, the UK National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) partnered with IBM to grant premium tier access to IBM’s quantum systems for the UK’s quantum software research base. This complements other existing relationships with quantum cloud providers and UK-based QC developers. The partnership with IBM aligns with the NQCC’s commitment to supporting local hardware innovation while ensuring access to cutting-edge technology.

    Looking ahead, the NQCC plans to award up to £30M in funding for UK quantum computing testbeds as part of the Quantum Computing Mission. This presents an opportunity for both established players and newcomers to make advancements in the field.

    The UK quantum ecosystem continues to evolve with a focus on global collaboration and strategic partnerships. As the UK enters its second decade of the National Quantum Technology Programme, it will be exciting to see how the quantum landscape unfolds and the impact it has on society and the economy.


    1. What is the UK Quantum Technology Showcase?
    The UK Quantum Technology Showcase is an annual gathering of the UK’s quantum ecosystem to showcase advancements and developments in quantum technology.

    2. What is the UK National Quantum Technology Programme?
    The UK National Quantum Technology Programme is a government-led initiative that promotes and coordinates investment in quantum technology in partnership with academia and the quantum start-up community.

    3. How has international collaboration shaped the UK’s quantum strategy?
    International collaborations, such as the partnerships with the Netherlands and Australia, have become a key aspect of the UK’s quantum strategy. These collaborations aim to foster knowledge exchange and drive advancements in quantum technology.

    4. What impact does the UK’s association with Horizon Europe have on its quantum research?
    The UK’s association with Horizon Europe allows for participation in certain quantum calls but restricts involvement in non-space related quantum areas. This may pose challenges for the UK’s quantum research and development efforts.

    5. How is the UK fostering innovation in quantum computing?
    The UK National Quantum Computing Centre has formed partnerships with industry leaders, such as IBM, to provide access to state-of-the-art quantum systems for research and development in quantum computing.

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