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

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]

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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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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

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