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Blog: The importance of the ‘Quantum Periphery’

9 November 2021

By Mike Paton, QTIC Programme Manager & General Manager of Enterprise Services

After over a year of virtual events I was delighted to attend the inaugural Quantum.Tech Leadership Summit this September along with Kim Brook, our Programme Manager for the QTEC and QUEST pre-incubation programmes. Quantum Technologies Innovation Centre (QTIC) sponsored the Summit which attracted over 100 SME and corporate representatives from a range of sectors.

It was energising to reflect on the progress that’s been made over the last 2 years. We heard stories of rapid growth from several UK start-ups including QTIC member QLM and QTEC alumnus Quantum Dice, reviewed major technical milestones achieved in the pursuit of quantum advantage in computing, and reflected on growing investment, both private and public (global public spending on quantum technology now exceeds US$ 22 billion).

One forecast shared by Cambridge Quantum really caught my attention: “The number of organisations allocating more than 17% of their annual IT budgets for quantum technology is expected to rise from 7% in 2021 to 19% in 2023” (source). That suggests staggering growth in interest and investment from industry in the coming years.

Alongside many of the familiar corporates with established quantum-related activities, it was good to see several new faces representing what I term the ‘quantum periphery’: those companies that have heard about quantum technologies, have a sense that it’s going to impact their business, but aren’t decided on how to act.

The nature of these companies - from international banks to an enterprise software giant – reminded me that we’ve still got a way to go (and plenty of opportunity) to end-user adoption. Conversations were dominated by computing, but sensing, communication and imaging also featured.

I see the ‘quantum periphery’ as an important area of focus for QTIC. As well as being home to some of the UK’s most exciting quantum technologies start-ups, QTIC can act as the neutral integrator between SMEs, industry, academia and government. Building on the University of Bristol’s extensive relationships with industry and working with academic colleagues, we can help the companies to explore potential use cases, in turn connecting with our network of SMEs – both members and those coming through our incubation programmes – and technical experts. State-of-the-art facilities, particularly in the full scale QTIC centre, will provide flexible space and access to equipment to support the emerging collaborations.

We’ve tested this concept in a workshop run with Digital Catapult to support technical leaders from select corporates to explore high-level use cases of quantum technologies. Feedback was excellent and we’re looking forward to more events of this kind in the future.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback. SMEs: what kind of support would be valuable to help you connect with potential end-users of your technology? Industry: can we help you to explore what quantum technologies could do for you?

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