11 Nov 2021

Event round-up: Commercialisation and international collaboration on quantum

On 27 October, techUK’s tech & innovation programme, and international trade programme, joined forces to host the online event Working together towards a quantum future: Commercialisation of and international collaboration on quantum.  


Speakers included: 

  • Dr. Heike Riel, IBM Fellow, Head Science & Technology, IBM (Germany) 
  • Dr. Dominic O'Brien, Director, Quantum Computing Simulation Hub UK, and Professor  of  Engineering Science, University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
  • Mark Mattingley–Scott, Vice Chair HPC and Quantum Working Group, Bitkom, and General Manager, Quantum Brilliance (Germany) 
  • Laure De Bars, Research Project Director, SAP, and President, European Quantum Industry Consortium (QuIC) (France) 
  • Vikram Sharma, Founder and CEO, QuintessenceLabs (Australia) 
  • Celia Merzbacher, Executive Director, Quantum Economic Development Consortium, SRI International (United States) 
  • Alexander Ling, Director, Quantum Engineering Programme and Associate Professor, National University of Singapore (Singapore) 
  • Dr, Keith Dear, Director Artificial Intelligence Innovation, Fujitsu (Japan/ United Kingdom) 
  • Sue Daley, Director – tech & innovation, techUK (United Kingdom) 
  • Sabina Ciofu, Head of EU and trade policy, techUK (United Kingdom) 
  • Laura Foster, Programme manager tech & innovation, techUK (United Kingdom) 

You can watch the event below, which is followed by techUK’s round-up of the event.  

Panel one: International collaboration on Quantum Technologies  

The panel on international collaboration on quantum technologies brought together quantum experts from the countries breaking ground in quantum to explore where international corporation is moving and how we can work towards adaptive regulatory strategies and industry standardization to strengthen global partnerships. 

Moderated by Sabina Ciofu, Head of EU and Trade at techUK, the first panel kicked off by a brief overview of national quantum initiatives from the participating countries. 

Celia Merzbacher, Executive Director of Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QECD), pointed out that one of the key enablers of the US quantum industry is significant historic investment by the US government, which supported a robust base of fundamental research, and this has led to several transformational breakthroughs in the field. 

The US National Quantum Initiative has been running since 2018 when there was the legislation passed to create a multi-agency coordinated program across several US agencies that invest in science funding. The US government acknowledged how important it is to coordinate government funding with the private sector investment. She went on to highlight that there is a lot of big bets being made by the private sector at the same time that the government is making significant investments in the basic scientific research. The QECD was created to bridge that gap and bring together the whole ecosystem.  

Singapore is one of the frontrunners in the quantum technology development. The Singaporean government was among the first ones to make a significant investment in the country’s quantum engineering capabilities. Prof Alexander Ling, Director of Quantum Engineering Programme and Associate Professor from National University of Singapore, mentioned that the key ingredients for success lie in the continued government funding into quantum research. The Singaporean government started to put sustained funding into basic research in quantum back in 2007, when the Centre for Quantum Technologies was established. Alexander also highlighted how important it is to support spin offs set up by entrepreneurs and academics at universities as these create valuable links between research and industry. 

Dr Keith Dear, Director of Artificial Intelligence Innovation at Fujitsu explained in more detail the Q- Star Alliance model introduced in Japan this year. The Alliance brings together 25 Japanese companies to create a new strategic programme to collectively progress work in the field of quantum computing. Q-STAR invites the participation of diverse industries that support its objectives and initiatives, and collaborates with industry, academia, and government in promoting initiatives that apply new technologies, and establishing related technology platforms. It also aims to establish a globally-recognized platform that will promote collaboration with other organizations around the world working in quantum technology. 

All panellists highlighted the need to coordinate government funding into quantum technologies with private investment to maximize opportunities for the advancement of the field. International collaboration is of vital importance if we are to succeed and progress at pace. Knowledge sharing, research partnerships and international regulatory cooperation will be crucial to drive innovation and bring the benefits of the quantum commercialization to all. 

The panel were clear that international community needs to participate in the development of standards to ensure the best possible outcome and take advantage of common approaches.  Governments, regulators and businesses need to work together to set standards that work for the industry and do not stifle its growth. New standards groups within classic computing may need to come together for standards specific to Quantum computing including the development of software tools for running software on QC hardware. The idea of regulatory/technology diplomacy – like minded nations to come together to outline the key positions in international regulation- emerged. 

Panel two: Quantum Commercialisation  

Sue Daley, techUK introduced the topic of commercialisation by asking each panellists to share their personal view of commercialisation. Panellists agreed that commercialisation is the process of bringing quantum to the people – the end users of quantum technologies and solutions – and out of the research institutions and universities.  

The panel were also clear that quantum technologies belong to an ecosystem that goes beyond computing. It can also include technologies such as QKD or quantum simulation. Each of these technologies are at different levels of maturity and therefore different stages of commercialisation. This is important to recognise when we look at the first use cases that will enter the market in the coming years.  

Fundamental to commercialisation is developing access, which relies on tackling a number of interconnecting aspects such as training and education, building supply chains, and developing complementary software application suites that will unlock value of quantum computers.  

Focusing on access to quantum, Stuart Woods, Oxford Instruments introduced the concept of commercialisation through cloud computing. He stated that “cloud for the people” allows for democratisation and acceleration of quantum technologies. Bringing quantum to the people by the cloud in turn will encourage use this technology and become inspired by new and innovative use cases.  

The conversation turned to developing roadmaps, and each speaker showcase what is happening in their region. Vikram Sharma discussed the National Science Organisation Australia (CSRIO), who recently released a quantum roadmap which showcased some of the opportunities and barriers of quantum in Australia. Of particular importance, this roadmap estimated that by 2040 Quantum tech would generate 4 Billion and create 16,000 jobs in the Nation. Figures like this showcase the value of quantum and help motivate industry to get involved in the quantum ecosystem.  

Equally, roadmaps are crucial for policymakers as it shows what they need to promote to achieve these goals, whether that is domestic such as skills, or international such as trade agreements to open up international collaboration.  

Throughout the conversation, the development of skills was a frequent topic of discussion. Education needs to be a constant dialogue between universities, quantum companies and industry. Whilst Universities are crucial, and PhD’s in quantum are fuelling quantum research, there is such a demand for quantum skills it needs to include those already in the workforce, apprentices, and those who have never been to university in the first place. In other words, a PhD in quantum is not always necessary to work in quantum.  

Key topics: 

  • Skills/reskilling - skills development within industry and cross-border cooperation on the development of international and national educational programs are strongly encouraged. National professional organizations should work together to develop programmes aimed at providing new skills to existing workers who want to get into the quantum field.  

  • Standards development- lack of harmonized standards will lead to barriers to future trade in quantum enabled services. Governments, regulators, and businesses across the world should work together to develop common standards to drive innovation and trade in this field.  

  • Research and development collaboration- international collaboration in research and development is vital to the advancement of the field. So is turning research and innovation into new products. Linking research with industry and promoting international collaboration can significantly benefit the whole quantum ecosystem. 

  • Exploring different access models to quantum – raising awareness amongst industry of the different ways quantum will be deployed is crucial. Initial commercialisation will be based on specific use cases, but eventually quantum will be used in conjunction with other technologies such as HPC and AI. Crucially, cloud will be fundamental for opening access, and cloud providers need to be engaging with the quantum ecosystem to realise this opportunity.  

  • Building Roadmaps – Building national roadmaps to highlight the benefits of quantum to wider industry. Once benefits become apparent to industry, this will express a willingness to invest which will trigger the commercialisation of quantum. Roadmaps can also be important for policy makers, as it shows what they need to encourage such as trade agreements to open up international collaboration. 

Quantum Commercialisation Week

Click here to read more insights published during techUK's Quantum Commercialisation Week

Click Here

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Jana Psarska

Jana Psarska

Policy Manager, International Trade, techUK

Jana is techUK’s Policy Manager for International Trade.

She supports techUK members in navigating international markets, including market access and regulatory challenges, and assists the tech sector in taking full advantage of UK’s trade deals. Her responsibilities also include driving the UK digital trade policy agenda. Jana is committed to promoting UK digital trade by engaging businesses, UK government and international partners.

Jana has several years of experience in trade promotion, public policy, and providing strategic advice on international expansion strategy to companies across a variety of sectors. Prior to techUK, she worked for the Department for International Trade, helping UK SMEs expand abroad.

She holds a MA in International Political Economy from King’s College London.

[email protected]
+44 (0) 7454556302

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Sabina Ciofu

Sabina Ciofu

Associate Director – International, techUK

Sabina Ciofu is Associate Director – International, running the International Policy and Trade Programme at techUK.

Based in Brussels, she leads our EU policy and engagement. She is also our lead on international trade policy, with a focus on digital trade chapter in FTAs, as well as broader engagement with the G7, G20, WTO and OECD.

As a transatlanticist at heart, Sabina is a GMF Marshall Memorial fellow and issue-lead on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, within DigitalEurope.

Previously, she worked as Policy Advisor to a Member of the European Parliament for almost a decade, where she specialised in tech regulation, international trade and EU-US relations.

Sabina loves building communities and bringing people together. She is the founder of the Gentlewomen’s Club and co-organiser of the Young Professionals in Digital Policy. Previously, as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, she led several youth civic engagement and gender equality projects.

She sits on the Advisory Board of the University College London European Institute and The Nine, Brussels’ first members-only club designed for women.

Sabina holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London and a BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge.

[email protected]
+32 473 323 280

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Sue Daley

Sue Daley

Director, Technology and Innovation

Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.

This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.

Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.

[email protected]
020 7331 2055

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