Quantum technology gets boost from autumn statement

The government has given quantum technologies research a boost in the autumn statement.

December 5, 2013

At least £0 million will be provided over five years to develop a network of quantum technology centres to help commercialise research. At least £190 million of this is a new resource, with the remaining funding coming from the science budget.

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said that quantum technologies represent a “major opportunity” for the UK. 

“This new investment in a national network of quantum technology centres will transform our capacity, keeping us ahead in the global race,” he said.

More than £230 million will be allocated to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £32 million will go to the Technology Strategy Board. The remaining £4 million will go to the National Physical Laboratory to provide state of the art equipment for its new Advanced Metrology Laboratory.

Also announced in the statement were details of a science and innovation strategy that will be completed for the next autumn statement. This will comprise of a “roadmap” detailing how the £1.1 billion for science capital announced in 2013 will be spent.

Other science announcements include the creation of the Higgs Centre at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre. The centre will focus on two of Mr Willett’s “eight great technologies of the future”: big data and space technologies, and is named in honour of the British Nobel laureate Peter Higgs.

More than £10 million of capital investment will be allocated from the Treasury to the STFC to construct the new centre. The STFC will invest a further £2 million over five years to operate it.

The centre, which is expected to open in 2016, will provide support for 12 small technology businesses, as well as host academic and PhD posts.

Meanwhile, two programmes with a budget of more than £450 million over a five-year period aim to encourage researchers to collaborate with their counterparts in emerging economies.

The money for both of these projects will be transferred to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills from the Department for International Development.

At least £80 million will be used to establish a Global Collaborative Space Programme while £375 million will go towards improving the research and innovation of emerging powers and building valuable research partnerships for the UK.

Innovation partnerships between the UK and countries such as China, Chile and Columbia will be targeted and the partnerships will be developed on a matched funding basis.

Mr Willetts said: “This fund will enable strong new partnerships with countries that are investing heavily to build their scientific capacity.”

holly.else@tsleducation.com

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