13 May 2024

Quantum commercialisation: A review of the UK funding landscape

Guest blog from Roger Mckinlay at UKRI as part of our #UnleashInnovation campaign week 2024.

The excellent techUK report, “Quantum commercialisation: Positioning the UK for success” is now two years old. Much has happened since its publication, not least the launch of the UK Quantum Strategy in March 2023 and the announcement of £2.5B to continue with the next ten-year phase of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme.

In her Ministerial Foreword in the National Quantum Strategy, the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, noted that the UK was already in a position of strength and, “…we are determined to build on these strengths with vision and long-term funding certainty.”

Work is now underway to define the definition of and plan the delivery of the five Quantum Missions announced by the government in December 2023.

We are clearly building on our strengths but what evidence do we have of past success? We have many metrics. The Quantum Challenge in Innovate UK has now funded 207 projects with £227M and in doing so supported 157 businesses. These businesses have in turn raised over £610M of private investment. The details mask the real success: an industrial sector has been established.

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Now, we need to start thinking “sector” not just “technology.”   It is right that we should enthuse and want to “leverage the UK's strengths across emerging technologies to push forward the application and commercialisation, highlighting best practice on industry and government collaboration that is enabling success.”   The words are from techUK’s “Unleashing Innovation 2024: Call for contributions” and they are good words. Infant technologies – be they critical, emerging, deep or “quantum” – need the watchful eyes of our universities, government, trade associations, learned societies and professional institutions. They are critical component parts of the ecosystem.

The needs of established companies can seem rather dull in comparison. Of course, they still need skills, talent and friendly regulations. They also need money.

We, rightly, look upon the £610M of private investment raised by this emerging sector as a success but it also reflects an urgent need. What was needed over the past six years will be needed once again over the next three! That is what growth means. Bigger sectors need more funding.

This is not easy. There is a breakpoint here. Raising £50M is a vastly different beast from raising £5M. If the UK is to be the go-to place for quantum companies we need to create new mechanisms to ensure that the financial needs of our companies can be met. The story spreads wider than grant funding. Long-term patient capital is needed. If we get this right, we will see Innovate UK, the British Business Bank and British Patient Capital (to give some examples) working more closely and in innovative ways.

Most importantly, our companies are growing because they are finding new market opportunities as well growing existing ones. They will find the skills they need, the friendly business climate they need, the suppliers they need and the investment they need. If they cannot find what they need in the UK, they will go elsewhere.

Confidence is growing. Sentences which used to start “if quantum” now start “when quantum.”  The question now is “where quantum?”


techUK – Unleashing UK Tech and Innovation 

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The UK is home to emerging technologies that have the power to revolutionise entire industries. From quantum to semiconductors; from gaming to the New Space Economy, they all have the unique opportunity to help prepare for what comes next.

techUK members lead the development of these technologies. Together we are working with Government and other stakeholders to address tech innovation priorities and build an innovation ecosystem that will benefit people, society, economy and the planet - and unleash the UK as a global leader in tech and innovation.

For more information, or to get in touch, please visit our Innovation Hub and click ‘contact us’. 


Tech and Innovation Summit, 6 Nov (rescheduled date)

Emerging technologies will be debated and explored at our annual Tech and Innovation Summit, taking place on  6 November. This campaign week will directly feed into the themes discussed at the Summit. 

techUK’s flagship Tech and Innovation Summit returns to traverse the extraordinary and ground-breaking discoveries made possible by the application of emerging and transformative technologies. 

Secure your ticket now.


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Sprint Campaigns

techUK's sprint campaigns explore how emerging and transformative technologies are developed, applied and commercialised across the UK's innovation ecosystem.

Activity includes workshops, roundtables, panel discussions, networking sessions, Summits, and flagship reports (setting out recommendations for Government and industry).

Each campaign runs for 4-6 months and features regular collaborations with programmes across techUK. 

New Space

This campaign explored how the UK can lead on the development, application and commercialisation of space technologies and ultimately realise the benefits of the New Space Economy.

These technologies include AI, quantum, lasers, robotics & automation, advanced propulsion and materials, and semiconductors.

Activity has taken the form of roundtables, panel discussions, networking sessions, Summits, thought leadership pieces, policy recommendations, and a report.

Get in touch below to find out more about techUK's ongoing work in this area.


Event round-ups


Report


Insights


Get in touch

Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Gaming & Esports

This campaign has explored how the UK can lead on the development, application and commercialisation of the technologies set to underpin the Gaming & Esports sector of the future.

These include AI, augmented / virtual / mixed / extended reality, haptics, cloud & edge computing, semiconductors, and advanced connectivity (5/6G).

Activity has taken the form of roundtables, panel discussions, networking sessions, Summits, and thought leadership pieces. A report featuring member case studies and policy recommendations is currently being produced (to be launched in September 2024).

Get in touch below to find out more about contributing to or collaborating on this campaign.


Event round-ups


Insights


Get in touch

Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Web3 & Immersive technologies

Running from July to December 2024, this campaign will explore how the UK can lead on the development, application and commercialisation of web3 and immersive technologies.

These include blockchain, smart contracts, digital assets, augmented / virtual / mixed / extended reality, spatial computing, haptics and holograms.

Activity will take the form of roundtables, workshops, panel discussions, networking sessions, tech demos, Summits, thought leadership pieces, policy recommendations, and reports.

Get in touch below to find out more about contributing to or collaborating on this campaign.


Launch insight


Upcoming events


Get in touch

Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Campaign Weeks

Our annual Campaign Weeks enable techUK members to explore how the UK can lead on the development and application of emerging and transformative technologies.

Members do this by contributing blogs or vlogs, speaking at events, and highlighting examples of best practice within the UK's tech sector.


Summits

Tech and Innovation Summit 2023

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Tech and Innovation Summit 2024

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Tess Buckley

Tess Buckley

Programme Manager - Digital Ethics and AI Safety, techUK

Tess is the Programme Manager for Digital Ethics and AI Safety at techUK.  

Prior to techUK Tess worked as an AI Ethics Analyst, which revolved around the first dataset on Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR), and then later the development of a large language model focused on answering ESG questions for Chief Sustainability Officers. Alongside other responsibilities, she distributed the dataset on CDR to investors who wanted to further understand the digital risks of their portfolio, she drew narratives and patterns from the data, and collaborate with leading institutes to support academics in AI ethics. She has authored articles for outlets such as ESG Investor, Montreal AI Ethics Institute, The FinTech Times, and Finance Digest. Covered topics like CDR, AI ethics, and tech governance, leveraging company insights to contribute valuable industry perspectives. Tess is Vice Chair of the YNG Technology Group at YPO, an AI Literacy Advisor at Humans for AI, a Trustworthy AI Researcher at Z-Inspection Trustworthy AI Labs and an Ambassador for AboutFace. 

Tess holds a MA in Philosophy and AI from Northeastern University London, where she specialised in biotechnologies and ableism, following a BA from McGill University where she joint-majored in International Development and Philosophy, minoring in communications. Tess’s primary research interests include AI literacy, AI music systems, the impact of AI on disability rights and the portrayal of AI in media (narratives). In particular, Tess seeks to operationalise AI ethics and use philosophical principles to make emerging technologies explainable, and ethical. 

Outside of work Tess enjoys kickboxing, ballet, crochet and jazz music. 

Email:
[email protected]
Website:
tessbuckley.me
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tesssbuckley/

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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:
[email protected]
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/lauraalicefoster

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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:
[email protected]
Phone:
020 7331 2055
Twitter:
@ChannelSwimSue,@ChannelSwimSue

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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:
[email protected]
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/rorydaniels28/

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Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Associate Director, Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID, techUK

Katherine joined techUK in May 2018 and currently leads the Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID programme. 

Prior to techUK, Katherine worked as a Policy Advisor at the Government Digital Service (GDS) supporting the digital transformation of UK Government.

Whilst working at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Katherine led AMRC’s policy work on patient data, consent and opt-out.    

Katherine has a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham.

Email:
[email protected]
Phone:
020 7331 2019

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Elis Thomas

Elis Thomas

Programme Manager, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Elis joined techUK in December 2023 as a Programme Manager for Tech and Innovation, focusing on AI, Semiconductors and Digital ID.

He previously worked at an advocacy group for tech startups, with a regional focus on Wales. This involved policy research on innovation, skills and access to finance.

Elis has a Degree in History, and a Masters in Politics and International Relations from the University of Winchester, with a focus on the digitalisation and gamification of armed conflicts.

Email:
[email protected]
Website:
www.techuk.org/
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/elis-thomas-49a1aa1a1/

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Usman Ikhlaq

Usman Ikhlaq

Programme Manager - Artificial Intelligence, techUK

Usman joined techUK in January 2024 as Programme Manager for Artificial Intelligence.

Prior to joining techUK, Usman worked as a policy, government affairs and public affairs professional in the advertising sector. He has also worked in sales and marketing and FinTech.

Usman is a graduate of the London School of Economics, BPP Law School and Queen Mary University of London.

When he isn’t working, Usman enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He also has a keen interest in running, reading and travelling.

Email:
[email protected]
LinkedIn:
https://uk.linkedin.com/in/usman-ikhlaq,https://uk.linkedin.com/in/usman-ikhlaq

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