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UK seeks head of quantum office

A vacancy on the civil service jobs site suggests the UK’s new quantum strategy is about to be rolled out – and there’s going to be a new chief

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is looking to appoint someone to lead the government’s quantum computing strategy.

The role is being advertised at a salary range of £73,000 to £117,800 per annum. According to a job advert posted on the Civil Service Jobs website, the government sees quantum computing as a priority technology.

“We will look to you to be an inspiring leader, a collaborative colleague and an ardent advocate for quantum technologies – across HMG [His Majesty’s Government] and with the academic and business community. We will expect you to deliver tangible results,” the job listing stated.

As part of what is described as a forthcoming “quantum strategy”, the government is looking to appoint a leader for the Office for Quantum Technologies. The vacancy post stipulates that the successful applicant will be responsible for delivering against the objectives of this quantum strategy and setting out the actions the government needs to take to ensure the UK is a leading quantum nation. According to the listing, this will also involve establishing a dedicated cross-government team to lead the work.

Although the Office for Quantum Technologies will sit within BEIS, it is expected to work across government departments. The job advert suggests the quantum team will need to identify, build and realise the opportunities of the nascent quantum sector for the benefit of UK prosperity, security and global influence.

“You will lead on all aspects of quantum technologies for HMG, working closely with many partners in government, academia and industry, and your personal drive, energy and credibility will be an essential element of the success of the strategy,” it said.

In 2014, the government, academia and industry launched the £1.4bn National Quantum Technology Programme (NQTP). The initial phase involved the establishment of hubs for quantum expertise and innovation. These, according to NQTP, “act as the engine for UK quantum ambitions, weaving the science of quantum technologies with ideas for their commercialisation and delivering a route to market”.

At the time, NQTP said each hub would bring together experts from universities, national laboratories, business development and industry partners to steer a proposed development.

Last year, BEIS started a consultation on the UK’s quantum computing strategy, looking for consultation on strategy vision and objectives, the knowledge pipeline, the innovation ecosystem, skills, adoption and the regulatory environment.

With the second phase of the NQTP coming to an end in 2024, BEIS said it was the right time to develop a national quantum strategy that sets out how the government will support commercialisation and industrialisation, attract investment and further develop the sector and supply chains, evolve the research landscape and increase efforts to collaborate with international partners.

In the consultation paper, BEIS said: “We must take action to retain talent, capability and know-how in the UK, and protect our knowledge and intellectual property.”

Read more about quantum computing

  • Quantum computing bridges the IT and scientific community, and although it may be years away, skills developed during pilot projects are key.
  • The government is funding 38 projects, one-third of which are focused on quantum computing.

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