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Quantum computing is today’s Space Programme, Sussex professor tells parliamentary inquiry

Dr Tomas Navickas in front of the Modular Microwave Ion Quantum Computer Prototype at the University of Sussex

The University of Sussex has given evidence to a parliamentary inquiry about the importance of investing in the emerging quantum technologies industry. Speaking to the Science and Technology Committee, Professor Winfried Hensinger echoed this point, and talked about the power of quantum physics to inspire a new generation of scientists.  Professor Hensinger compared it to the Space Programme which had motivated him as a child.

He told the Science and Technology Committee for their quantum technologies inquiry: “Beyond widespread technological applications, an additional societal benefit from research into quantum technologies is its unique ability to inspire young people to take an interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics subjects:  when I was young, there was a Space Programme. It was on the back of breakfast cereal packages, and, to be honest, the reason I am here is that I wanted to be the science officer on the Enterprise! With quantum computing, I now see a very similar thing.”

The Science and Technology’s Committee Quantum Technologies report has now been published and has concluded that quantum technologies offer the opportunity for significant economic growth and improved capabilities across most industry sectors.  The University of Sussex had provided the Committee with evidence including an urge to boost funding for research into quantum technologies. The University told the inquiry that there is a severe skills shortage of qualified quantum engineers and that this shortage was the most crucial challenge facing the UK quantum sector.

Responding to the published report, Professor Winfried Hensinger said: “It is great to see the enthusiastic support by the Science and Technology Committee for the UK to capitalise on its unique strength in the development of quantum technologies. The Committee made thoughtful recommendations that will ensure that we will develop a full ecosystem to support the emerging quantum technology industry sector. I was very happy to see that the Committee has taken up many of our recommendations such as addressing the skills shortage in this new industry sector.”  

The University of Sussex is a leading centre for the development of quantum computing. Last year the University unveiled the first blueprint for a large-scale quantum computer. The Ion Quantum Technology Group, led by Professor Hensinger, recently also announced that it had made a major breakthrough concerning one of the biggest problems facing quantum computing: how to reduce the disruptive effects of environmental “noise”.  Lead author on that paper was PhD student, Anna Webb who undertook the research as part of her doctorate.  

By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Thursday, 13 December 2018

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