Brennen & Rhode: Australia Should Invest in a Home-Grown Quantum Industry
(AustralianStrategicPolicyInstitute) Australia needs to initiate a strategic investment in quantum technology as a national priority an intellectual supplier to the US, contends Gavin Brennen (Director of the Macquarie Centre for Quantum Engineering at Macquarie University) and Peter Rohde (Senior lecturer and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Centre for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney).
They point out that a discovery made by three physicists in 2001, one of whom was an Australian, provided a radical new way to build quantum computers using light. Two decades later, two world-leading quantum computing companies—built on principles of this theory and led by Australians—have a valuation of well over US$3 billion.
But neither is based in Australia. PsiQuantum is based in Silicon Valley and Xanadu is based in Toronto. Other Australians have gone on to lead quantum computer development teams in public companies like IBM and Google—but again, overseas.
While Australia played a highly influential role in the early development of quantum technologies, today we are witnessing a significant flight of intellectual capital to more fertile jurisdictions overseas. Exacerbating this situation is the slow rollout of Covid vaccines accompanied with strict border controls, which has accelerated Australia’s technology talent leak.
Australia has no coordinated national quantum strategy to speak of. Of course, Australia can’t directly compete with the US or China in terms of capital investment and infrastructure for quantum. But ASPI urges Australians to nurture the advancement of their country’s place in the global quantum ecosystem in a manner that matches our national strategic interests in existing areas of defence and strategic policy.