26 Oct 2021

Investing skills and resources into Quantum: A rare opportunity for the City?

Karina Robinson is the CEO of Robinson Hambro and Founder of The City Quantum Summit. Karina explores the unique opportunity between quantum and investment in the UK, and how this is currently playing out in the City. Part of techUK's Quantum Week. #QuantumUK

As quantum takes off, its off-putting lingo – entanglement, entropy and superposition – and the endless talk of a fully functional quantum computer being (continually) a decade away has led to most City firms dismissing the whole industry.

Here are three reasons why the City should focus on quantum.

The UK has the second highest number of quantum start-ups in the world (73), after the US (149). These are global companies, like Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) with offices in the US, Japan and Europe, or Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC), which manufactures the UK’s most advanced quantum computer. They need staff, funding, consultancy, legal and other professional services – all City services. Consultancy BCG estimates the quantum market will be worth $10bn over the next five years, while others put the number at $30bn.

Most importantly, these firms will list or merge. IonQ, a US quantum company, was first off the block, as it listed with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) on the NYSE. It has been followed by others, including UK-based Arqit, led by CEO

Secondly, quantum computing has become affordable. There is no need to build a $1bn quantum computer, some of which must be kept at -273 degrees centigrade, and where the slightest vibration is catastrophic to any computation. IBM, Microsoft and Honeywell, among others, offer access through the cloud, as does Oxford Quantum Circuits, a UK-based start-up. Last year Amazon opened its Amazon Braket quantum computer biosphere to all researchers and developers to accelerate new discoveries. Its Chief Technology Officer, Werner Vogels, says anyone can now use quantum machines for as little as 30 cents.

As a result, it is not only behemoths like JP Morgan that will be able to access portfolio optimisation services, for instance, where quantum computers have an inbuilt advantage against classical ones as they juggle many more probabilities. Pharmaceutical companies will be able to find cures for Alzheimer’s. Start-up digital insurers will be able to price risk more accurately and medium-sized environmental consultancies will be able to come up with ground-breaking carbon capture solutions.

The vast amounts of data we create as a society are barely being used because of the limitations of classical computers, even supercomputers. Quantum computing through the cloud liberates Big Data and allows advanced AI to incorporate it.

The third reason to embrace quantum is cybersecurity. It is frightening enough that data theft increased by 160% in 2020 over 2019, according to IBM’s 2021 Threat Intelligence Report. The fact that the Chinese government is responsible for one third of the global investment in quantum adds another layer of fear, not least because the $11bn recorded probably underestimates the total, given the country’s lack of transparency.

Several quantum companies offer cyber products based on quantum technology. This creates added cyber protection now, as well as ensuring sensitive data with a longer shelf life will not be accessible in a quantum future, even if a system is broken into today and content extracted for decryption a few years down the line.

Quantum is a natural part of the mix for the City, keen to maintain its pre-eminence in a post-Covid and post-Brexit world. In 1967 Nobel physicist Richard Feynman stated, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics, “a quote that applies just as much today. But understanding opportunity is a City strength.

In a bid to fix the problem, and following on the heels of the first ever White House Quantum Summit, William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London and Robinson Hambro are hosting the first ever The City Quantum Summit at the Mansion House to highlight how quantum can propel innovation and profit.

Click here to register for the free Summit, which will take place both virtually and in person.

Karina Robinson is the CEO of Robinson Hambro and Founder of The City Quantum Summit

Quantum Commercialisation Week

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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, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally 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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Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.

During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.

Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.

Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.

[email protected]

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