27.The first phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme has been overseen by a Strategic Advisory Board. In its 2016 report on quantum technologies, the Government Office for Science recommended the establishment instead of “a body with the funding and sole remit to coordinate activities across the programme more effectively”. It suggested that this body “could help to prioritise spending and resources; respond to national and international developments; link government horizon-scanning to projects, competitions and demonstrators; and co-ordinate the purchase of scientific equipment”. Professor Sir Peter Knight, who co-authored the Government Office for Science report, explained that:
We wanted to make sure that our partners could be part of a common board, so that they could work out a strategic investment system whereby they could see alignment of where their money could go […] What we now want, with the opportunities that UKRI has, is to have an investment strategy with that common board.
28.Although the progress achieved by the existing Strategic Advisory Board was recognised, we heard strong support from the quantum technology community for the establishment of a new body with expanded membership, remit, power and accountability. Professor Trevor Cross, who sits on the current Strategic Advisory Board, told us that “it is going to be absolutely critical to set up the governance of the future programme in a different way, with executive powers”, explaining that the current Board was “very much advisory and it does some good, but it does not have authority”. Dr Peter Thompson, CEO of the National Physical Laboratory, added that the establishment of a new Executive Board would also accelerate progress in the National Quantum Technologies Programme, in particular with regard to the Government Office for Science’s 2016 recommendations, by providing a “single point of accountability”.
29.One of the main hopes for a new board was for greater co-ordination across the different activities of the National Programme. Professor Knight told us that the Strategic Advisory Board had already aimed to ensure that the first phase of the National Programme had “a coherence to it”, with the different strands co-ordinated to support the development of quantum computers but also acting to exploit any opportunities that the intermediate technology developments offered along that route. Indeed, some witnesses, such as the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub and the National Physical Laboratory, identified the coherence of the first phase of the National Programme as one of the distinguishing features of the UK quantum technologies ‘ecosystem’ compared to those of other countries. However, many emphasised the scope for improved co-ordination. In particular, the co-ordination between the academically-focused and translational strands of the Programme was highlighted as an element to improve. Dr Andrew Shields, Quantum Technologies Research and Development Lead for Toshiba Research Europe Ltd, called for “a much better-integrated programme, which integrates academia, industry and Government partners”, as:
In phase one, we really had two programmes: the [Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s] academic programme and the Innovate UK programme for industry. They have not been joined up all that much actually; they have had very different scales, as we have mentioned. They had very different timescales as well—the academic programme has been a five-year programme, whereas the industry projects have typically been a year or 18 months.
30.The funding for the next phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme has been awarded in several tranches and through different mechanisms. Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, explained that although the Strategic Advisory Board’s bid for the second phase was “a single overall ask, it was in a series of different buckets”. In addition to this fragmented decision-making process, Professor Ian Walmsley, Director of the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, noted that the second phase of the National Programme would oversee a broader range of activities than the first phase, adding to the need for greater co-ordination.
31.Although the first phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme is widely seen to have been successful, we believe that there is room for improvement in the co-ordination across the Programme as it moves into a second phase, in particular between its more academically-focused and its more commercially-focused activities.
32.The National Programme’s current Strategic Advisory Board comprises representatives from academia, industry, funding councils and the Government. However, several witnesses, including Professor Trevor Cross of Teledyne e2v and Professor Sir Michael Pepper of the Royal Academy of Engineering, argued that industry should have a stronger role in directing the next phase of the National Programme. QuantIC, the Hub for quantum-enhanced imaging, told us that industry input into the direction of the National Programme would grow increasingly important as the programme’s focus turned more explicitly towards commercialisation of quantum technologies. The Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology added that if industry was to provide an increased proportion of the funding for the second phase of the National Programme, which the Government had said would be required, then it would expect increased influence over the direction of the programme. Professor Cross agreed, saying that industry would want collective influence over research that targeted specific commercial application, which he thought should make up about 60% of the second phase of the National Programme. Indeed, Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, agreed that “if commercialisation or capturing economic benefit is key, having industry help to drive that decision is particularly relevant to success”.
33.The Royal Academy of Engineering noted the importance also of “collaboration between UK industry, research and the regulatory bodies […] for the UK to gain a competitive advantage by leading the development of global standards”. Dr Thompson similarly told us that it was “absolutely critical” that standards bodies “work with industry to shape the standards to enable UK industry to succeed in future”. Professor David Delpy, Chair of the National Programme’s Strategic Advisory Board, explained that the standardisation of components was “the difference between quantum science and a real quantum industry”.
34.Many quantum technologies are ‘dual-use’, meaning that they have military and civil applications. The potential military applications of quantum technologies, and the consequent importance of these technologies to the UK’s defence capabilities, are discussed further in paragraphs 101 to 107 of this Report. In addition to making the direction and progress of the UK quantum industry relevant to national security as well as national prosperity, this also has implications for academics and companies working on quantum technologies. For example, the Institute of Physics explained that:
Dual-use status may impose restrictions on the trade of some quantum technologies—in particular, the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) place strict limitations on the use of US-developed defence-related knowledge and technology, including those of relevance to quantum technologies […] Training in the issues associated with both US and UK export controls for dual-use technologies has been delivered through the [National Quantum Technologies Programme] to mitigate potential risks, and should be continued as part of any future programme.
The Ministry of Defence told us that it “maintains a keen awareness of developments” in quantum technologies through its close relationship with the National Quantum Technologies Programme. The Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub similarly told us that “the current governance of the National Quantum Technologies Programme includes advisors from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Government Communications Headquarters among others to whom we look to help recognise [matters arising from the dual-use nature of quantum technologies] and their implications on the actions within the Hub”. However, the University of Sussex suggested that:
Bolstering the participation of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in the National Quantum Technology Hubs will help addressing the challenges arising from dual-use applications at the early stage in their development.
35.The governing body of the second phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme should engage with, and seek guidance from, academia, industry, regulators, standards bodies and Government bodies overseeing national security and defence. Industry should have a strong collective influence on the decisions of the governing body, in keeping with the increased role and investment expected of industry as quantum technologies achieve market readiness.
36.Professor David Delpy, Chair of the National Quantum Technology Programme’s current Strategic Advisory Board, outlined how he thought the new board should be set up and operate:
We need a high-level executive board, possibly even a director, but I would not want to see that embedded in Government. The whole advantage of this programme is that it is a mix of industry, academia, Government Departments and other institutions that have worked extremely well together. They have found a way of working and it would be nice to keep it outside, rather than embedding it within UK Research and Innovation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy or some other Government Department.
He suggested the Energy Technologies Institute as one example that a new board could build upon. The Energy Technologies Institute is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies and the UK Government, with a board made up of representatives from both.
37.Professor Sir Mark Walport told us that a challenge director had been appointed for the quantum technologies challenge, who would “be working very closely with the advisory board for the quantum technologies”. Sir Mark indicated that this was one part of an ongoing process to bring the National Quantum Technologies Programme under a “single governance model”. However, the Science Minister told us that the “situation is evolving” and that the final governance model of the programme had not yet been decided.
38.We have heard strong support from across the UK quantum technologies community for the establishment of a new governance structure for the second phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme. The Government should establish a new Executive Board to oversee the second phase of the National Quantum Technologies Programme within three months of this Report’s publication. The new Board should have the power to make decisions over the delivery of the second phase of the National Programme, and a corresponding level of control over the funding allocated to the next phase of the National Programme. It should have a clearly defined mission statement and be held accountable for delivering on it. The mission statement should include an overall aim to support the development of a UK quantum technologies industry that delivers the maximum economic, national security and societal benefit for the UK public as a whole. The new Board should comprise representatives from academia, small and medium-sized enterprises, large companies, standards bodies, regulators and the Government, including from national security and defence organisations.
39.During the course of our inquiry, several witnesses referred to the benefits of conducting a review of the current quantum technologies ‘ecosystem’, or of assessing the specific market opportunities for quantum technologies and what would be required to realise these opportunities. The Institute of Physics, for example, suggested that a “review of the landscape” would help to identify “emerging areas” that had not been included under the scope of the first phase of the National Programme, but which might now “benefit from access to programmatic support and strategic alignment”. Teledyne e2v told us that “future investments should mainly be targeted towards specific market and customer needs”, which could be identified through reviews of market opportunities:
Rigorous market assessments must be undertaken and shared within the UK community, to ensure that technologies are directed towards genuine market needs. Proposals for investment should be reviewed by experts in that market—for example for medical applications: medical practitioners, clinical scientists and industry technologists.
Dr Andrew Shields, Quantum Technologies R&D Lead at Toshiba Research Europe Ltd, similarly recommended “a national roadmap that details when the applications [for quantum technologies] will be realised and how the technology has to evolve to meet those applications”. Such a roadmap could additionally assess the infrastructure and skills that would be needed to meet targeted applications.
40.In addition to the benefits of a roadmap for planning and co-ordinating the National Programme, M Squared, a photonic and quantum technology developer, suggested that a similar “system of benchmarking” would be “of great advantage to the UK government, academics and industry leaders”. M Squared’s CEO, Dr Graeme Malcolm, explained that such a system should serve to “give everybody, including the industry and the hubs, some sort of dashboard of how we are doing”. This would also provide a way to monitor the progress of the second phase of the National Programme.
41.The Strategic Advisory Board published a brief roadmap of future quantum technology markets in 2015, and some individual Hubs were working on roadmaps specific to their sector. However, it appears that a detailed roadmap covering all potential applications and markets for quantum technologies is not currently developed. Professor Delpy contrasted the situation for quantum technologies with those of more established industries:
If we had a sector council, as there is in automotive, there would be a 20-year roadmap that would identify a series of demonstrators that we need, as Rolls-Royce has for 50 years. In this area, where we are developing an industry, we do not have roadmaps of the same precision.
The Science Minister informed us that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport were jointly conducting a review of quantum technologies, which would “look at what support is necessary to realise the commercial benefits and support responsible development”. It is not clear to what extent this could contribute to the development of a roadmap for the future development of the UK quantum technologies industry.
42.The Executive Board should produce a detailed roadmap, or series of roadmaps, for the future potential markets for quantum technologies in the UK, in consultation with appropriate experts from the market sectors identified. The roadmap should assess the likely size and timeframe of each potential market, as well as the technological developments, infrastructure, workforce, supply chains and regulatory measures that are expected to be required to harness each market opportunity. The roadmap should cover the next twenty years and be updated annually. It should be publicly available, with a first iteration completed within one year of this Report’s publication.
43.The Executive Board should use the roadmap(s) of future quantum technology markets to identify potential obstacles to the development and commercialisation of quantum technologies in the UK and to define a strategy to overcome these. The strategy should be published and updated alongside the roadmap and include clear, measurable milestones, to be reviewed annually.
74 ‘’, National Quantum Technologies Programme, accessed 12 November 2018
75 Government Office for Science, ‘’ (2016), p14
76 Government Office for Science, ‘’ (2016), p60
78 University of Sussex (), para 6.1
79 See, for example: UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute (), para 7; Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology (); National Physical Laboratory (), para 33; , and
83 QuantIC (), para 21; Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub (), para 7.2; Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology (); National Physical Laboratory (), para 42; M Squared ()
84 See, for example: UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute (), para 7; Institute of Physics (), para 4; Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology (); Teledyne e2v (); QET Labs (), para 18; ,
85 ; Professor Trevor Cross, who sits on the national programme’s Strategic Advisory Board, said he agreed “totally”—
86 The £315m funding for the National Programme has been awarded through: the £20m Pioneer Fund, announced in the Industrial Strategy White Paper; £80m for continuation of the Hubs, announced on 6 September 2018; and announcements in the 2018 Budget, some of which will be delivered through future waves of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
89 ‘’, National Quantum Technologies Programme, accessed 5 November 2018
90 For example, see: Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology (); , , ,
91 QuantIC (), para 8
92 Government Office for Science, ‘’ (2016), p10; , and
93 Quantum Technology Hub for Sensors and Metrology ()
96 Royal Academy of Engineering (); see also Institute of Physics (), para 15; QET Labs, at the University of Bristol, similarly told us that “effective communication and collaboration is required between all related regulatory bodies, academia and industry in order to avoid unnecessary barriers to the development of the industry”—QET Labs, University of Bristol (), para 27
99 Institute of Physics (), para 30
100 Ministry of Defence (), para 4
101 Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub (), para 12.1
102 University of Sussex (), para 10.3
105 ‘’, Energy Technologies Institute, accessed 9 November 2018
109 For example, see: Institute of Physics (), para 22; Teledyne e2v (); M Squared (); , and
110 Institute of Physics (), para 22
111 Teledyne e2v ()
113 Institute of Physics (), para 20;
114 M Squared ()
116 National Quantum Technologies Programme Strategic Advisory Board, ‘’ (2015) and, for example, Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub, ‘’ (2016)
Published: 6 December 2018