The UK's first commercially available quantum computer will be built by California-based quantum start-up Rigetti Computing, the government announced on Wednesday.
Backed by £10 million from the government and industry, the proposed machine will enable researchers and businesses to unleash new opportunities promised by quantum computing in industries ranging from finance and pharmaceuticals to aerospace and transportation.
Announcing the UK's first commercial quantum computer, Science minister Amanda Sollway said that the machine would be based in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, although users in other parts of the country would also be able to access the system via the cloud.
Rigetti UK Ltd will develop the machine in partnership with various UK organisations, such as Oxford Instruments, the University of Edinburgh, Phasecraft and Standard Chartered Bank.
Rigetti Computing was founded in 2013 by CEO Chad Rigetti and has recievced funding from venture capitalist firms Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator.Rigetti UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rigetti Computing.
The firm will use its superconducting qubit technology to create the system, and after it gets completed, it will be housed in a dilution refrigerator provided by Oxford Instruments.
The University of Edinburgh will develop new techniques to test the hardware and the performance of the programmes that will run on the computer. Phasecraft will develop algorithms for energy, materials design and pharmaceutical purposes, while Standard Chartered Bank will look at financial applications.
Sollway described the project as a key part of the government's plan to attract the best talent and world-leading firms to the UK and to make the country the world's first quantum-ready economy.
Sollway also announced the launch of the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, which aims to act as the UK's trusted authority on quantum technology and place the country at the forefront of the new technology.
Quantum computing technology offers new opportunities for businesses to find quicker or better solutions for many complex problems, which is not possible through traditional computers.
Pharmaceuticals, aerospace and transport are thought to be among the industries that will get maximum benefits from quantum computers.
Quantum technology is estimated to offer £4 billion of economic opportunities globally by 2024 (and £341 billion through productivity gains in coming decades) - which will result in creation of new jobs, knowledge and skills in the UK, the government claims.
"There are currently only a small number of quantum computing platforms being developed around the world - presenting an opportunity for the UK to be at the forefront of this technology," said Chad Rigetti.
"The activities announced today will help promote quantum computing across the UK economy, providing businesses with the best opportunity to take advantage of these new technologies in the years to come," he added.
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