In Quantum News Briefs today, we open with with IDQ’s introduction of its XGR Series QKD platform designed to serve as a versatile research tool for both academic and technology evaluation labs. This is followed by the news of Ocra Computing’s recent $15M Series A. Next coverage is the multi-institutional quantum summer research program for a diverse class of undergrads. Two concluding articles pertain to national policy initiatives and quantum tech, i.e., findings from a national quantum readiness survey in the UK and Brookings’ recommendations to policy makers in the US.
IDQ Introduces XGR Series QKD Platform
Secure key exchange is possible over fibers with a maximum loss of 12 dB to 18 dB (typ. up to ninety kilometers) for a Cerberis XGR pair or 24 dB (typ. up to one hundred fifty kilometers) for a Clavis XGR pair, as well as over a single core using WDM. The optical platform is well documented in scientific publications and has been extensively tested and characterized.
The XGR Series also integrates a Key Management System (KMS) that manages key requests and key transfers between QKD optical systems and external encryptors. Key distribution to encryptors or any key consumer is performed over the secured QKD ETSI REST API or proprietary interfaces developed in partnership with major vendors.
ORCA Computing Completes $15 Million Series A Funding Round
The Series A investment will be used to roll out its near-term photonic quantum computing systems and software enabling organisations, including the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), to develop future data processing capabilities such as machine learning. The investment will also help ORCA continue developing its full-stack fault-tolerant solutions as well as accelerate the development of its proprietary quantum memory-powered photonic quantum computing systems.
The funding was led by a syndicate of top European deep technology investors including Octopus Ventures, Oxford Science Enterprises, Quantonation, and Verve Ventures. In addition to the investment round, the company has also secured significant project-based funding from Innovate UK.
Undergrads Begin Summer Quantum Research with Multi-Institutional Support
The Open Quantum Initiative is a group of researchers, educators, and leaders among the Chicago Quantum Exchange that champions the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in quantum science. Their new fellowship recently garnered almost half a million dollars of support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, affirming the importance of increasing the diversity of scientists and engineers in quantum information science and engineering.
The new fellowship program was founded in large part by graduate students and early-career researchers and seeks to make the expanding quantum workforce a more diverse and inclusive community by helping undergraduate students from a broad variety of backgrounds gain hands-on experience. Almost 70% of this year’s fellowship students are Hispanic, Latino, or Black, and half are the first in their family to go to college. In addition, while the field of quantum science and engineering is generally majority-male, the 2022 cohort is half female.
81% of UK Business Leaders Expect Industry Disruption from Quantum Computing by 2030
A Quantum Readiness Survey 2022, produced in collaboration with the the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), has found that 81% of senior UK executives expect quantum computing to play a significant role in their industry by 2030. The NQCC represents a £93m UK Government investment over five years through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with the aim of placing the UK at the cutting edge of quantum computing.
Strategic planning for quantum computing is in early stages for most organisations in the UK. Only 33% are engaged in strategic planning related to quantum computing and a quarter have appointed specialist leaders or set up pilot teams.
While the majority of UK’s business impact believe quantum computing’s full impact will not be felt immediately, almost half (48%) think that quantum will begin to transform industries as soon as 2025. Furthermore, respondents were almost unanimous in their belief that quantum computing will create a moderate or high level of disruption of their own organisation, industry sector, and the broader UK economy in the next five years.
Strategic planning cycles for quantum are lagging behind. Most organisations expect to start their quantum journeys in the next one to two years. Almost three-quarters (72%) will start planning by 2024.
The NQCC is working with businesses, government and the research community to deliver quantum computing capabilities for the UK and support the growth of the emerging industry. This report is a key part of that work helping explain why the UK needs to be at the forefront of quantum computing and to demonstrate how strategically important this technology is to the country.
How US Policymakers Can Enable Breakthroughs in Quantum Science
As with the internet, the development of a quantum internet and associated systems like quantum computers and quantum sensors should be aimed initially at providing new capabilities to scientists and other researchers to make new discoveries. To this end, it is important to provide open access to those who wish to use federally supported infrastructure for research. Private companies have a significant role to play by making available open platforms for quantum computing, like IBM’s Quantum Experience.
Ensuring progress in the development of QIST requires sustained funding. The passage in 2018 of the National Quantum Initiative Act funneled $1 billion toward quantum research between 2019 and 2021 and laid the foundation for the U.S. National Quantum Initiative (NQI), an all-of-government effort to nurture and invest in the development of QIST and the quantum workforce.
Overall, QIST has made extraordinary advances in recent years. The potential for further breakthroughs and their ensuing benefits is enormous, yet major challenges remain. American policymakers should do all they can to help realize the promise.
Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990. She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.