07 Jun 2023

Event round-up: What is the future of quantum in the UK? A Look at 2023 and beyond with Michael Cuthbert NQCC

On 31 May 2023, techUK hosted an engaging event exploring the exciting realm of the UK’s current quantum ecosystem, including the completion of the NQCC campus in Harwell, actioning the UK Quantum Strategy, and what can reasonably be expected in the advancement of quantum technologies for the rest of 2023 and beyond

techUK’s Head of Tech and Innovation Laura Foster was delighted to be joined by Dr. Michael Cuthbert, Director of the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre. 

You can watch the full session here and read our summary of the key insights below.


Setting the Stage for the Quantum Journey 

The event kicked off with a captivating introductory talk by Dr. Michael Cuthbert, Director of the UK's NQCC, setting the stage for the quantum journey that lies ahead. In his talk, he shed light on the foundational principles of quantum technologies, such as superposition and entanglement, and their profound impact on various industries including telecommunications, healthcare, finance, security, and logistics. It became evident that a quantum revolution is on the horizon, and the UK is poised to lead the charge. 

UK’s Quantum Leadership: Progress and Investments 

One of the key highlights of the event was the recognition of the UK's quantum leadership and the significant investments made in quantum technology development. The establishment of four research hubs and the country's impressive progress in a 10-year program showcased the commitment to driving advancements in this transformative field. Quantum computing, encompassing simulation, machine learning, optimization, and cryptography, emerged as a focal point, with substantial investments aimed at pushing the boundaries of what is possible. 

Challenges on the Quantum Horizon: Scaling and Managing Expectations 

However, amidst the excitement surrounding quantum technologies, it was important to acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. Technical hurdles such as scaling hardware and applications, managing noise, understanding algorithms, benchmarking, and setting realistic expectations demand our attention. It is essential to navigate these challenges effectively to unlock the full potential of quantum technologies. 

The NQCC’s Pivotal Role: Translating Science into Action 

Central to the discussion was the pivotal role of the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) in translating scientific advancements into tangible action. The NQCC aims to build a robust quantum ecosystem through support for applications and training, collaboration through events and research collaborations, and funding initiatives. By nurturing both the quantum industry and the scientific community, the NQCC paves the way for quantum technologies to flourish. 

Positioning the UK on the Global Quantum Landscape: A Roadmap for Success? 

The event also highlighted the need for a roadmap to guide future endeavours and position the UK prominently on the global quantum landscape. While the Quantum Strategy focusing on all quantum technologies is very welcome, the over-generality within the Strategy could hinder specific pathways towards commercialisation for the individual technologies. Different quantum technologies will mature at different rates, as will market readiness for these technologies. For example, the Quantum Strategy recognises that quantum compute is further from market deployment due to significant science and technology challenges and remains at a fundamental research stage. In comparison, a steep change in performance can be demonstrated in lab-settings for quantum sensing, with the challenges focusing on real-world application. Therefore, it is critical that the next stage of the Quantum Programme develops a roadmap that better reflects the specific challenges facing the different technologies on the road to commercialisation.   

The NQCC has already begun identifying steps for its own roadmap, envisioning mechanisms, and vehicles to deliver on it. Balancing public and private investments, leveraging academic research, and fostering diverse industry collaborations will be crucial in securing the UK's position as a global leader in quantum technologies.  

Bridging the Gap: Convincing Established Companies to Invest 

Bridging the gap between scepticism and realization was another critical topic discussed during the event. Strategies for convincing established companies to invest in quantum computing were explored, emphasizing the importance of understanding their workflows, identifying unmet problems, and demonstrating how quantum computing can address those challenges. Effective communication and collaboration with industry stakeholders were deemed essential in harnessing the potential of quantum technologies. 

Embracing the Hybrid Model: Quantum and Classical Computing in Harmony 

An intriguing discussion ensued regarding the hybrid model, where quantum and classical computing complements each other. Overcoming hurdles such as a lack of understanding of classical computing, sustainability concerns, and energy consumption, will be key to successfully adopting this model. Collaboration with industry, access to tools, and the development of a general-purpose quantum device emerged as crucial factors for driving commercialization and establishing regulatory frameworks. 

Closing Remarks: Embracing Quantum’s Potential 

In his closing remarks, Dr. Michael Cuthbert shared a resounding message, encouraging individuals to engage with organizations like the NQCC and techUK. He emphasized the importance of exploring quantum's immense potential, actively participating in events, staying informed, and embracing quantum technologies. By doing so, we can collectively shape the future of this transformative field.


 Dr Michael Cuthbert biography

Dr Michael Cuthbert

Dr Michael Cuthbert

Director, National Quantum Computing Centre

Find out more


With member support techUK will advocate for a greater focus on cyber resilience in the UK as a route to strengthening public-private partnership around quantum security. Members are able to join the working group here.


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For more information please contact:

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK