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UK and US governments agree joint quantum collaboration

Representatives from the two governments issue a joint statement on quantum information science and technology (Qist)

The UK and US have agreed to collaborate on the development of quantum science. In a joint statement, the UK’s science minister, George Freeman, and the director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy, Eric Lander, set out shared priorities for continued cooperation between the two nations. Priorities include promoting joint research, building the global market and supply chain, and training the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Quantum technologies provide the building blocks transforming society, such as modern computers, the mobile phone, the laser and the MRI scanner.

Areas of focus covered in the joint statement include: cooperation; facilitating interactions between government, academia and the private sector; enabling opportunities to build the global market and supply chain for Qist research; promoting multidisciplinary research and the cross-fertilisation of research methodologies; and data sharing.

To encourage the development of the next generation of scientists and engineers, the statement also implies that the two governments will encourage the exchange of people working in quantum centres and hubs and universities participating in Qist research and development.

“Quantum technologies are set to revolutionise computing with huge opportunities across our economy and society – from everyday functions like medical diagnosis and drug discovery, to cyber security and AI [artificial intelligence],” said Freeman. 

“The UK and US have been at the forefront of advancing this cutting-edge area of science and technology. Today’s agreement is the latest chapter in the close partnership between our two countries in science and innovation, and I look forward to seeing the results for both nations in the years ahead,” he added.

Lander said: “Science transcends borders, and cooperation with partners accelerates the way we bring technologies to market. I am delighted we can deepen our relationship with the UK on quantum information science. By working together, we can broaden training opportunities, develop new applications for quantum technology, and think globally about how to maximise the benefits of these technologies for everyone.”

The collaboration is part of a wider £1bn government and industry investment through the National Quantum Technologies Programme to commercialise quantum innovations and secure the UK’s status as a world leader in quantum science and technologies.

Last year, the UK government and industry unveiled funding and plans to develop a UK quantum computer, which will be built by Rigetti Computing. Offered as a cloud-based platform, the system is being designed to allow computer programmers to test and run their quantum algorithms remotely. 

In June, Hartree Centre joined IBM’s Digital Accelerator programme to further research into artificial intelligence and quantum computing. At the time, science minister Amanda Solloway said: “Artificial intelligence and quantum computing have the potential to revolutionise everything, from the way we travel to the way we shop.”

Read more about quantum computing

  • No one wants to run a computer operating at temperatures close to absolute zero – this is pushing the boundaries of new computing architectures.
  • In The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, Deep Thought calculates the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything as ‘42’. But what of quantum computing?

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