24 Apr

Oxford Instruments’ Plasma Technology and NanoScience businesses collaborate with the consortium, that wins a landmark grant to boost quantum technologies in the UK

Innovate UK awards the largest ever Government grant aimed at the commercialisation of superconducting quantum technologies to a strong consortium of four companies and two universities, and positions the UK as a global leader in the field. 

Led by Oxford Quantum Circuits and collaborated by Oxford Instruments, SeeQC UK, Kelvin Nanotechnology, University of Glasgow and the Royal Holloway University of London, the consortium will industrialise the design, manufacture and test of superconducting quantum devices. This is the first time a concerted effort will bring all relevant partners across industry and academia towards establishing such capability in the UK. Multiple commercial streams are expected through cryogenic measurements as a service, superconducting device foundry as a service, quantum computing as a service and the sale of quantum devices. The consortium will develop foundry and measurement services, which will underpin major commercial developments across the economy.

Superconducting hardware is critical for the development of quantum technologies, delivering transformative products for sensing, security and information processing.

However, fabricating these superconducting circuits, accessing specialist cryogenic equipment and developing state-of-the-art test electronics remain highly technical and expensive undertakings. The significant up-front investment required represents a large barrier to entry to most companies in the UK, preventing the country from leading the way on quantum technologies, a market expected to reach nearly £15 Billion by 2024 globally, with £233 Million for superconducting devices alone.

Today, a world-class consortium of experts in nanoscale technology is announcing a £7 Million landmark project to bring the capability to produce superconducting circuits at commercial scale in the UK. This Innovate UK grant signals the UK’s ambition to lead the international race to commercialise quantum technologies to the benefit of the economy and society.

Dr Ilana Wisby, CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits said, “With this grant, Innovate UK is sending a strong message: the country has missed opportunities to drive commercial impact from its enviable scientific base in the past, but it won’t miss the quantum revolution. Our project is critical to positioning the UK at the forefront of the quantum industry, bringing in jobs and investment, and delivering a domestic supply of a technology of national strategic importance. Our consortium is uniquely positioned to deliver this project successfully”.

The partners in the consortium have established a strong foundation of IP and know-how with previous Government support through the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. This project will harness those capabilities for the benefit of the commercial sector.

Professor Phil Meeson, Director of SuperFab, said, “SuperFab, the superconducting electronic nanofabrication facility at Royal Holloway, is a key underpinning capability for the project. RHUL is very proud to be a member of the consortium that will lead the development of superconducting quantum devices in the UK.”

Professor Martin Weides, Head of the Quantum Circuit Group at the University of Glasgow stated, “This grant is vital to addressing today’s new pressing challenges to increase the technological readiness level of superconducting quantum circuits. Our long-standing collaboration with Oxford Instrument will be continued and strengthened by including novel nanofabrication techniques and providing cryogenic measurement services to the global quantum community. Glasgow’s subsidiary and commercialisation partner Kelvin Nanotechnology will provide Nanofabrication Foundry Services to the partners and commercial markets.”

Dr Ravi Sundaram, Head of Strategic R&D Oxford Instruments, commented “Oxford Instruments is delighted to be part of such a strong consortium and to play a key role in the development of robust Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) nano-fabrication processes for superconducting materials as well as establishing quantum measurement services using state of the art cryogenic and measurement solutions with our colleagues in Glasgow. We see commercial markets developing across the quantum technologies sector, where this consortium can leverage the exceptional research legacy in superconductivity in the UK to develop a significant supply chain for long term economic impact.”

The project, supported by an international advisory board including commercial customers, will be launched in August 2020, with the first key deliverables expected in 2021.