Strathclyde joins UK’s largest industry-led quantum computing project

Quantum computer. Image by Getty Images

The University of Strathclyde has become a partner in the UK’s largest industry-led quantum computing project to date.

The University has joined DISCOVERY, a £10 million, three-year programme designed to address technology barriers to commercial quantum computing.

M Squared, the Glasgow-based international supplier of photonics and quantum systems, will coordinate DISCOVERY alongside Strathclyde and seven other partner organisations that are leaders in their respective fields, including neutral atom, ion trap and optical qubit approaches to quantum computing.

The multidisciplinary consortium includes start-ups, established businesses, academic institutions and research and technology organisations with a strong track record in quantum-computing hardware development, as well as the collective expertise and capabilities to overcome technical barriers to commercial quantum computing.

The project has received funding from Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, as part of the UK Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund call, Commercialising Quantum Technology: Technology Projects Round 1.

Professor Erling Riis, of Strathclyde’s Department of Physics, the University’s lead in the project, said: “The DISCOVERY project aligns with one of the University’s strategic aims with its Quantum Technology programme, that of overcoming the barriers to commercialisation. In particular, we will be supporting the development of test beds for components and systems for cold atom-based quantum computers.”

Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, CEO and founder of M Squared and Strathclyde alumnus, said: "The DISCOVERY project will help the UK establish itself at the forefront of commercially viable photonics-enabled quantum-computing approaches. It will enable industry to capitalise on the government's early investment into quantum technology and build on our strong academic heritage in photonics and quantum information. The coming era of quantum technology will play a major, transformative role in both the economy and society alike. It is therefore critical that the UK leverages its expertise in science, research and advanced industry to come together and make progress in commercial applications."

Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for the Quantum Technologies Challenge, said: “This investment comes under the umbrella of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, which is set to make a £1 billion investment over its lifetime. The Discovery team exemplifies the vibrant ecosystem which is a hallmark of the UK quantum sector and its technical expertise – which is impressive – is well matched with commercial nous and in-depth market knowledge.”


At present, there are several promising approaches to commercially viable quantum computing and this project will specifically address three methods enabled by photonics that offer the highest fidelities demonstrated to date: neutral atom; ion trap and optical qubits. These approaches represent the state-of-the-art in demonstrated hardware; however, barriers to commercial deployment remain with the challenge of increasing both qubit fidelity and qubit scalability. The programme will demonstrate a shift from fundamental, academic activity to scalable, commercial implementations.

Another core objective of DISCOVERY is to develop the wider UK quantum-computing sector, and therefore the project will also support the establishment of commercial hardware supply and roadmaps for industrial deployment of these technologies. The selected partners have extensive experience in the sector and can already demonstrate commercial deployment of relevant technologies across the global market for quantum information systems.

Other partners in the project are: Oxford Ionics; ORCA Computing; Kelvin Nanotechnology; TMD Technologies; the University of Glasgow; the University of Oxford and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL); Strathclyde is a strategic partner in NPL.

The University of Strathclyde is the only academic institution that has been a partner in all four EPSRC funded Quantum Technology Hubs in both phases of funding. The Hubs are in: Sensing and Timing; Quantum Enhanced Imaging; Quantum Computing and Simulation, and Quantum Communications Technologies.