As described in my blog on Tuesday, despite the opportunity, there are a number of challenges facing the quantum technologies industry worldwide.
However, to coin the cheesy business phrase: every challenge is also an opportunity for the UK get ahead of the rest of the world, and to stay at the top of a thriving new industry. We tend to forget that we are an ingenious nation that has, and will continue to provide the world with ground breaking new ideas and concepts from the steam engine to MRI. We just need to get our mojo back.
Usefully for the UK, quantum technologies is sufficiently creative and diverse that money, on its own will not be the only factor to determine success. Rather, quantum is a race of great, breakthrough ideas, excellent multidisciplinary teams and clever and inventive approaches to markets and applications.
Already the UK has shown that we can be a contender by being joined up, and strategic about how funds are delivered. This absolutely must continue for the UK to stay ahead.
Through the government funding we receive, Teledyne spend a significant amount of effort in bringing the whole supply chain of components, subsystems, systems and applications closer to market, rather than just focussing exclusively on our own activities. Our reason for wanting this is that the supply chain is so cutting edge, that we feel we must reach out across this supply chain to ensure that the components we need are available, and will continue to be available for the lifetime of the products we are building. We have to protect ourselves against events such as when one mobile phone company swallows up the world’s supply of high-end lasers after finding a use for them.
Looking forward, and especially as quantum technologies start to leave research and enter the commercial world, the responsiveness and flexibility of our university and government partners will continue to be key to our success. Again the UK programme has forged ahead, but we mustn’t let up. The modus operandi, the skills and the cultural distinction between universities and companies should be blurred further. I’m not suggesting that Universities and companies should behave the same- they serve different purposes- but a greater awareness of the other’s motivations and reason for being will allow a more seamless transition of technologies and ideas.
Finally, I hope that we as individuals and the policy makers who represent us consider carefully Britain’s future place in the world. In a world facing emerging trade challenges (such as the ongoing USA/China trade wars), it’s important that we constantly remind ourselves that free and open global markets create great products.
Dr Richard Murray is business development manager with a PhD in quantum physics. Richard currently works for Teledyne Technologies: a $2.9Bn global Engineering conglomerate working on industrialising quantum technologies, working to transition quantum from research into a new business unit. He is also the deputy project lead for the £8.5m Innovate UK funded project 'Gravity Pioneer'.
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