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IOP quantum Business Innovation and Growth group hits ground running

14 April 2023

The government’s new quantum strategy is a sure sign that the qBIG group’s work is valued and it has an exciting future, writes founding committee member Ian Reid.

Happy World Quantum Day and welcome all to the first blog from the new Institute of Physics (IOP) special interest group, quantum Business Innovation and Growth (qBIG). Formed six months ago and chaired by Anke Lohmann, qBIG is a member-driven group supporting the business community growing up around commercialising quantum technologies.

Committee members include representatives from a range of companies and organisations working in the quantum sector, including Aegiq, Airbus UK, Anchored In, BAE Systems, Coherent Inc Scotland, ColdQuanta, Fraunhofer UK, Leonardo, the National Quantum Computing Centre, ORCA Computing, Oxford Instruments, Quantum Base Alpha, Quantum Dice, Quantum Exponential, Slingsby Partners, Thales UK and Trace Elements.

Active in the quantum ecosystem, many of our founding members had an input into the IOP’s quantum vision report (2022) that made crucial recommendations to the government on the future for quantum technologies in the UK, and we welcome the subsequent publication on 15 March 2023 of the UK National Quantum Strategy by the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, seeing many of the recommendations being taken up.

Building on UK scientific excellence delivered by the current UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, it articulates a long-term vision and a 10-year plan for ensuring that the UK is a world-leading quantum-enabled economy by 2033. It envisions a thriving quantum sector, underpinning digital infrastructure and an advanced manufacturing base, delivering significant economic growth and a strong and resilient society.

There are four main goals: delivering quantum skills and training; making the UK the go-to place for quantum business and key for global supply chains; driving the use of quantum technologies to deliver UK economic, societal and security benefits; and the creation of a national and international framework supporting innovation in quantum technologies and their ethical use.

“Our group will support the government’s plan, playing a role in building and co-ordinating the ecosystem, and giving a powerful voice to stakeholders in shaping the strategy’s future development and implementation”

The 10-year plan consists of five phases, the first comprising: a new portfolio of applications-focused quantum technology research hubs and centres; industry-led innovation programmes; accelerator programmes; and underpinning infrastructure investments. There are exciting elements here for all stakeholders in the ecosystem, from researchers and engineers, to innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and the business community, to end users and the wider public.

qBIG will support the plan, playing a role in building and co-ordinating the ecosystem, giving a powerful voice to stakeholders in shaping the strategy’s future development and implementation. Key elements will include fostering professional development for the quantum workforce; capturing infrastructure requirements and representing our community to regional and national policymakers; promoting supply chain development; and an events and networking programme currently in preparation.

Also, judging is complete for, and we will shortly be announcing the first winner of, the annual Quantum Exponential-sponsored IOP qBIG Prize for small and medium-sized businesses working to bring quantum technology-based products and services to market.

Keep an eye out for IOP activities and engage with qBIG’s future programme. Ideas for future quantum business-related blogs are welcome, so please get in touch: [email protected].

Ian Reid, founding committee member