£50m funding for UK quantum computing projects with industry

The STFC Hartree Centre is a partner in two funded projects within the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme

As part of two revolutionary quantum computing collaborations with industry partners, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) facilities — including the Hartree Centre, the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) and Scientific Computing Department — have secured funding under UK Research and Innovation’s £50 million Commercialising Quantum Technologies.

Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionise computing. Faster than conventional technology allows, the way they harness the properties of quantum mechanics enables them to solve very complex problems that existing computers cannot.

Revolutionising drug discovery

The £4.7 million Quantum Enhanced Computing Platform for Pharmaceutical R&D (QuPharma) project will be led by quantum computing company SEEQC and a consortium of partners including Merck, Riverlane, Oxford Instruments and University of Oxford alongside the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), the STFC​Hartree Centre and Scientific Computing Department.

The project uses a quantum computer alongside a classical supercomputer to model the properties of drugs. This will speed up drug development by a factor of ten. Currently, supercomputers are used to predict and model the effect of drugs, reducing need for testing. But this is a very difficult task, even for the most powerful supercomputer. Over half of the small number of drugs that reach phase of human trials are unsuccessful in getting approval for commercial use, with all that research effort going to waste.

Dr Michael Cuthbert, Director of the National Quantum Computing Centre, said: 

Pharmaceutical is a significant end-user sector for quantum computing. I am excited to be joining this project and working with our consortium partners to tackle some of the key engineering bottlenecks to the commercial delivery of NISQ applications. As devices are scaled up, NQCC will support the hardware testing and the integration of quantum resources into established classical infrastructure, through colleagues across STFC – from both the Hartree Centre and Scientific Computing Department.” Read more