International Race to Develop Quantum Tech is Not a Zero-Sum Game
(FinancialTimes) Iam Walmsley, provost and professor of experimental physics at Imperial College London has penned an informative editorial discussing the global nature of science and innovation, while stressing the UK’s exceptional strengths in quantum technology.
He acknowledges the big venture capital investment in the sector has indeed been in North America. But Walmsley also points out the UK has a decades-long head start in quantum technologies. The British government funded the National Quantum Technologies Programme six years ago to accelerated research and development, and stimulated private investment. Total UK government investment has now reached £1bn with more than 30 start-ups, embedded in and spun-out of the universities involved in the national programme.
Yet too much commentary, especially in the UK and Europe, fixates on where quantum innovation and commercialisation is Walmsley decries what he labels short-sighted talk of a “brain drain” to the US. He says that British laboratories are the foundation of today’s global industry and have drawn pioneers in quantum metrology such as Ed Hinds back to the UK from the US.
Additionally, the British government recently announced a £153m investment boost to quantum technology innovation, backed by more than £200m in private sector investment. This will help sustain Britain’s 26 universities, 138 academics and more than 100 businesses are involved in the quantum tech development effort.
The UK will still play a pivotal role if other countries such as the US and China who racing to develop quantum technologies do catch up–but this is not a zero-sum game, according to Walmsley.