UK Prioritizes Quantum in National Strategy

Policy identifies quantum computing, AI, high-performance computing, cybersecurity as priorities
Berenice Baker

May 24, 2023

Secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Chloe Smith.
Secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Chloe Smith.

The U.K. has launched a $1.2 billion national semiconductor strategy focused on securing a national lead in quantum computing technology.

The new approach addresses future semiconductor technology, including research and development (R&D), design and IP and compound semiconductors.

The policy identifies quantum computing, AI, high-performance computing and cybersecurity as key to economic growth and future discoveries. It sets out three key objectives to support these: grow the U.K.’s domestic sector to boost growth and job creation, mitigate the risk of supply chain disruptions and protect national security.

The strategy document spotlights the significance of semiconductors to quantum computing, saying: “Semiconductor materials offer a clear route to bring quantum computing to the real world, enabling quantum devices that can work at room temperature.”

According to the strategy, the U.K. has research expertise in design, advanced materials, compound semiconductors, power electronics, photonics,

quantum technologies and heterogeneous integration. It says these could lead to a strategic advantage in the next stage of technology evolution, which will require breakthroughs in AI, quantum computing, large-scale computing and the pursuit of net zero.

The government has pledged to invest $248 million into the semiconductor industry over the next two years and up to $1.24 billion in the next decade. However, these amounts are dwarfed by similar investments made by the U.S. and the E.U. and have been criticized as providing less than the cost of opening one semiconductor plant.

“Semiconductors are one of the five technologies of tomorrow, along with quantum, AI, engineering biology and future telecoms,” said secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Chloe Smith. “They are critical to the U.K.’s economic and national security and to the strategic advantage we will secure on the global stage.”

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