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Major leap forward for Australian quantum computing

20 September 2016

Australia’s status as a world leader in advanced computing received a boost today with a $70 million agreement between the research community, business and the Turnbull Government.

The Turnbull Government is contributing $25 million over five years through the National Innovation and Science Agenda to a consortium developing a prototype silicon quantum integrated circuit – the first step in building a functional quantum computer.

The Government’s investment complements $25 million from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and $10 million each from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra.

“Work is set to start on developing the prototype circuit at the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), based at the UNSW,” Minister Hunt said.

“Quantum computing is expected to revolutionise the use of information technology and data, as quantum computers can solve in minutes or hours problems that would take conventional computers – even supercomputers – centuries.

“This is because quantum computing provides a new approach to cracking problems that involve large numbers of variables or different possible solutions.

“Quantum computing has potential applications in a range of sectors, including healthcare, defence, telecommunications, financial services, logistics and weather forecasting.

“Winning the global race to build a functional quantum computer will give Australia a significant competitive advantage, creating new growth and job opportunities.”

The Australian Government has funded CQC2T for over a decade, ensuring that Australia is at the leading edge in developing a silicon based quantum computer, with Australian researchers having a two to three year lead over the rest of the world in developing this quantum technology.

UNSW Director of CQC2T, Professor Michelle Simmons, said “As Director of the Centre I am delighted to be working closely with Government and our corporate partners CBA and Telstra. This new initiative enables us to prototype potentially transformational quantum computing technology here in Australia. The Government has supported our fundamental research over many years and this new agreement has been essential to stimulating industry investment.”

Commonwealth Bank CIO, David Whiteing, said “For innovation to thrive, there must be collaboration to create the right frameworks for innovation ecosystems to flourish. This is an exciting day as Australian corporates, government and communities have come together to reach agreement on key terms and invest in disruptive technology.”

Telstra Chief Operations Officer, Brendon Riley, said “Quantum computing has the potential to be one of the most profound developments in technology of the 21st century. It could have a transformational impact on Australian and global businesses, including telecommunications where complex encryption techniques could create the most secure data transmissions, network routing could be optimised in real time or vast quantities of data could be searched and matched for security purposes.”

This collaboration is a prime example of how governments, research centres, and business can work together to translate great Australian research into commercial reality.

The Turnbull Government recently announced the extension of Australian Research Council (ARC) funding of CQC2T as an ARC Centre of Excellence.

This funding, comprising $34 million in Government contributions and $103 million in cash and in-kind contributions from participating organisations, will support the fundamental research needed to scale-up the prototype and build a functional quantum computer.

With the investments committed by the consortium members here today, the ARC and private involvement will ensure that we give our team of researchers at CQC2T the best possible opportunity to retain and build our world leading advantage in silicon-based quantum computing technologies. 

CQC2T is a collaboration of six Australian universities; UNSW, the Australian National University, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Griffith University and University of Sydney; the Australian Defence Force Academy; with 12 international university and industry partners.

Media contact: Mr Hunt's office 02 6277 7070