The UK government has pledged to invest £2.5bn in quantum computing over the next 10 years, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced today.
The programme forms part of the new Spring Budget, which aims to reduce inflation and the risk of a recession.
The British tech sector will play a central role in the plan. As part of a goal to make the UK a “science and technology superpower,” Hunt wants to build a world-leading “quantum-enabled economy” by 2023.
To create this, the government is more than doubling its previous funding commitment to the field. It aims to attract another £1 billion in private financing.
“The next step is for UK VC funding to dramatically increase.
The new programme aims to build on strong foundations. The UK currently ranks second in the world for both the number of quantum companies and private investment in the sector.
Andrew Scott, a founder partner at 7% Ventures, an early-stage fund that’s backed British quantum startups, said the new investment is “vital for future UK prosperity.”
Scott echoed the government’s call for further private sector financing.
“The next critical step to support the Prime Minister’s 10-year plan for the UK to become a ‘tech superpower’ is for UK VC funding to dramatically increase,” he told TNW.
In particular, Scott hopes for extensive growth in deeptech and later-stage Series A+ funding. To foster this, he wants regional pension funds to dedicate a percentage of their resources to deeptech VC investment.
“Someone like the British Business Bank could manage and deploy to VC funds, much as they already do via the ECF (Enterprise Capital Funds) and BPC (British Patient Capital) programmes,” Scott added.
The government has also been advised to proceed with patience. Sebastian Weidt, the CEO of Universal Quantum, a University of Sussex spinout, said the funding needs a long-term vision.
“Quantum computing is a marathon, not a sprint,” Weidt told TNW. “Therefore, we need to support the broad range of very promising approaches to quantum computing we have access to across the UK. And we should avoid focusing just on the short term.”
To support this, the government has made a variety of pledges around research and upskilling.
“I’m keen to see how we can continue to welcome the world’s best talent.
In addition, the plan contains a series of commitments to international collaboration. They include funding for R&D partnerships with other countries, as well as promises to attract and support talent and companies from overseas.
James Palles-Dimmock, CEO of Quantum Motion, which recently raised a UK-record £42 million, insists that the capacity to work across borders is essential to the sector.
“Manufacturing and talent are two key areas where the gains to be made from collaborative working significantly outweigh the risks,” he said. “And I will be keen to see how we can continue to welcome the best of the world’s talent to the UK to allow us to continue to accelerate the realisation of these enabling technologies.”