26 Oct 2021

Building Pathways to Quantum Advantage

Dr Rupesh Srivastava, from NQIT User Engagement & the University of Oxford, challenges UK industry to build pathways to quantum advantage. Republished as part of techUK's Quantum Commercialisation Week 2021. #QuantumUK

The Quantum Computing Technology Hub known as “NQIT” (Networked Quantum Information Technologies) is a consortium of 9 universities and more than 20 industry partners with its headquarters at Oxford University. It is one of the four quantum hubs of the extremely successful National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) – a 10-year commitment by government and industry of more than £1Bn!

The NQIT hub is developing more than one type of quantum computer as well as quantum software, quantum algorithms and commercialising research-led innovations.

I work in the Engagement team where our mission is to help create a globally competitive quantum computing industry for the UK.

As the NQTP enters its second phase, the quantum hubs are being refreshed, and on 1st December 2019, NQIT is being succeeded by the hub for “Quantum Computing and Simulation” (QCS), with 17 universities and more than 25 commercial and government partners.

Alongside the QCS hub, there will also be a National Centre for Quantum Computing (NQCC), whose focus will be to develop a Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) machine in the next 5 years, and drive the development towards a fault-tolerant, scalable quantum computer in the longer term.

This is an exciting time for the quantum computing industry. A tipping point has been reached where a quantum processor can perform a computation that a classical computer struggles with. Google has demonstrated this recently with its Sycamore quantum processor (53-qubits) – completing a computation in 200s that would have taken the Summit supercomputer (currently ranked No. 1 in the world) far longer. This is the territory of so called “quantum supremacy”, where we begin to enter unchartered waters.

I’m not interested in the debate of whether it would have taken Summit 10,000 years (as Google claim) or 2.5 days (as IBM claim). What I am focused on instead is building pathways to quantum advantage – quantum computers doing useful work for science and industry.

We (NQIT) are exploring different avenues to get UK businesses and organisations ‘quantum ready’. Consider the question: “Can quantum computing improve your business by 1%?” A business may not have the skills or resources available to find out.

The skills are in the research community, but the specific problem may not be interesting to researchers. Some of the gaps can be filled in by emerging quantum consultancies and quantum software firms but it’s early days. The quantum workforce needs to grow substantially and have reasons to stick to the UK when better salaries are available elsewhere.

I expect that in the next 3 to 5 years, quantum computers will start to become useful. However, if businesses decide to wait until then they will have missed the boat, giving their bolder competitors the upper hand. Volkswagen is a great example having spent three years developing a traffic management solution using the D-Wave quantum computer. They are trialling their system with 9 buses in Lisbon. That’s three years of investment in building a capability on a pathway towards market maturity and developing key relationships along the way.

My advice to UK businesses and organisations is to get involved sooner rather than later. Work with us at the hub to build pathways to quantum advantage because then you will be ready to take advantage as more powerful quantum computers appear. For me, the cost of participating is far less than the cost of missing out.

Dr Rupesh Srivastava, NQIT User Engagement & University of Oxford. 

Republished as part of techUK's Quantum Commercialisation Week 2021

Quantum Commercialisation Week

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

Click Here


Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager 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]

Read lessmore

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

Read lessmore

Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

Read lessmore