Scotland's quantum revolution

Did you know Scotland is home to world-leading quantum experts within our universities and business community? It's no wonder we’re excited about working together to develop next-generation computing technologies here in Scotland – and why global investors are piling money in.

"Over the last 5 years, Scotland has seen significant R&D investment into universities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde, across quantum computing, photonics, lasers, cryptography, industrial informatics, imaging and sensors."

Graham Hatton, inward investment team leader, Scottish Development International

Graham Hatton, inward investment team leader, Scottish Development International

Written by Graham Hatton

Scotland’s growing cluster of small and medium enterprises in quantum technologies benefit from our ongoing support working closely with academics. One of the best-known examples is Glasgow-based M Squared Lasers – its award-winning products have led to breakthroughs in many areas of science, including the UK’s first commercially viable Quantum Accelerometer. Its customers include Nobel Prize-winning scientists, leading universities and innovative manufacturers.

The company's precision lasers provided the means for the European Space Agency project Sentinel 5P to measure pollutants such as ozone, formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide from space – it's the best data set that humanity has on the health of our planet.

“The coming era of quantum technology will play a major, transformative role in both the economy and society alike."

Dr Graeme Malcolm OBE, chief executive and founder of M Squared

Dr Graeme Malcom, chief executive and founder of M Squared

UK universities working together on quantum computing

The Scottish Centre for Innovation in Quantum Computing and Simulation brings together world-class expertise across quantum hardware and software from the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The University of Edinburgh is already a partner in the Quantum Computing & Simulation Hub, aiming to tackle the research and technology challenges of quantum computing. The Hub is a collaboration of 17 universities, led by the University of Oxford and supported by more than 25 national and international commercial and governmental organisations.

UK’s first commercial quantum computer

The University of Edinburgh is also one of the partners in a £10 million project to develop the UK’s first commercial quantum computer. This is led by the UK subsidiary of Californian quantum circuits specialist, Rigetti. The other collaborators are Oxford Instruments Nanotechnology Tools, Standard Chartered Bank and Phasecraft.

Over three years, the partners will build and operate the first quantum computer in the UK. They’ll make it available to partners and customers over the cloud, and pursue practical applications in machine learning, materials simulation and finance.

"Quantum computers have already been built by IBM, Google, and Rigetti and these are being exploited by other businesses in UK and elsewhere," says Professor Elham Kashefi, who leads the quantum team at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics. "But they are what we call noisy devices – early prototypes that still need work before we have a machine we can take to market."

"By looking at quantum computing and communication in novel ways, we can create what we call un-hackable, secure cloud computing. This is still futuristic and is not something we can do right away. But it’s a big area of activity for my team. And given all the drama around the topics of online security, privacy and vulnerability – it’s something I'm very excited about."

Professor Elham Kashefi, quantum team lead at the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics

Professor Elham Kashefi, quantum team lead at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatic

The future of internet security and quantum computing

The University of Edinburgh is already home to the £79 million UK national supercomputer ARCHER (standing for Advanced Research Computing High End Resource). This is hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than a traditional desktop computer and is used to run massive research simulations.

The University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics is a world leader in computing-science research and teaching. And it has one of the biggest research groups in quantum software in the UK. Experts from a wide range of backgrounds are involved in researching complementary aspects of quantum software, including quantum programming languages, quantum machine learning and quantum simulation, quantum cybersecurity and quantum verification.

Professor Elham Kashefi co-founded the fields of quantum cloud computing and quantum computing verification and says she is most excited about the potential of a completely secure internet.

"We can develop a new quantum internet from scratch with privacy and integrity at its core," Elham says.

Join Scotland's quantum community

My role as team leader at Scottish Development International involves working with technology businesses looking to invest and develop operations in Scotland. We can help you identify and connect with potential partners, understand the talent pool, find premises, gather market intelligence and gain insights. 

Find out more about software and IT in Scotland

Meantime, if you’d like to chat about specific support, contact me direct through LinkedIn.

Graham Hatton - LinkedIn

If you’d like to hear more about Scotland's advances in quantum and how Scotland could be an ideal location for your tech business, we’re here to help.

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