Quantum Australia


First, I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to elders past and present.

I extend that respect to all other First Nations people in the audience today.

Thank you to CEO Peter Turner and all at the Sydney Quantum Academy for convening this event which brings together an impressive array of speakers, panellists, and distinguished guests from Australia and around the world. 

It is so good to be back at Quantum Australia! Last year when I spoke to you we were on the threshold of launching Australia’s first ever National Quantum Strategy - and look how far we’ve come. 

We launched that strategy less than 12 months ago – and used this constantly to boost broader awareness of the importance of the your work and contribution to the nation. 

Quantum made its way into the Treasurer’s Budget speech. That is rare. Australia’s quantum potential being promoted at the highest levels of government.

The Prime Minister regularly references it; the Defence Minister has talked about it. We’re fast becoming a Government of quantum experts.

Not only is the Government talking about it, but our leading quantum scientists are being recognised at the highest levels.

Professor Michelle Simmons from Silicon Quantum Computing won last year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, a major acknowledgement for her achievements in creating the field of atomic electronics and work on building an error-corrected quantum computer. 

That’s Australia’s highest science prize.

State and territory governments are starting to roll out their own quantum commitments.

The Queensland government released its first quantum strategy last year, aiming to make Queensland a destination for quantum technologies.

Investments in Australian and international quantum companies are being made by private and state-backed funds. Just look at Breakthrough Victoria’s investments in Infleqtion and Quantum Brilliance.

And our quantum industry is thriving too. 

Silicon Quantum Computing recently closed a $50 million capital raise to fund expansion of its ongoing work to manufacture a scalable, error-corrected quantum computer. 

And we have been excited to welcome the appointment of SQC’s new Chair, Simon Segars, as well as the Commonwealth’s appointed director, Fiona Pak-Poy. 

The expertise and experience you both bring to SQC is invaluable. 

Software startup Q-CTRL raised around $75 million last year after IBM announced a breakthrough use of Q-CTRL’s quantum computer infrastructure software for error suppression and performance management. 

I have visited many labs and startups over the last year, who are being sought after in Australia and on the international stage. 

Like Dr. Vikram Sharma’s Quintessence Labs, providing quantum-based cryptographic solutions to 18 countries. 

Nomad Atomics, developing field sensors based on cold atoms for navigation and to find mineral deposits.

And last night, a really special moment, I had the pleasure to officially open the new lab of quantum computing company Diraq yesterday and meet the team, led by founder and chief executive Andrew Dzurak. 

They too have just closed off a capital raising, bringing total funding of Diraq’s technology to US$120 million. 

The impact of these investments and private capital raising is increasingly being felt across Australia’s Quantum landscape. 

And there are Australians working at the highest levels in multi-national companies too, whose research careers started here. Who were trained by people sitting in this room. At IBM, at Google, at AWS, at PsiQuantum. 

And we want to crowd in all of this activity here in Australia. 

I mentioned our National Quantum Strategy launched last year – a north star for decision making not just by us but by private and public capital. 

We’re a global pioneer in cutting-edge quantum research and have been for decades – despite being on the other side of the world, the world knows our quantum pedigree.  

Australia consistently ranks in the world’s top 10 destinations for high impact quantum research – now we want more of that research commercialised here. 

We want companies choosing Australia as the destination that doesn’t just seed brilliant ideas but has the resources to grow them here. 

And after a decade in which our manufacturing output slumped to among the lowest in the OECD, and our R&D investment fell just as fast, we’re slowly turning the ship around.

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Just this year we saw the first uptick in government expenditure on R&D in several years. 

And Australian government investment in quantum is growing too. 

As of 2023, total investment across all Australian governments in quantum was estimated to be $893 million.

For a country of 26 million people we’re punching above our weight – we’ve got one of the largest per capita government spends in the region. 

We launched the grant for our Australian Centre for Quantum Growth, which is being assessed as we speak, and the Critical Technologies Challenge Program grant opportunity will be launched soon.

The Albanese government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund has one billion dollars earmarked for critical technologies, and quantum is a priority here. This is now set up and about to make its first investments.

We’re also working on the development of our NRF Co-investment plans for Enabling Technologies. 

Quantum technologies have also been identified as critical to our AUKUS pillar 2 objectives. 

Besides building up our homegrown talent and calling Australians back home, we want to forge links with our international partners. 

In November last year I was pleased to sign the UK-Australia Joint Statement on Cooperation on Quantum Technologies with UK Secretary of State for Science Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan. 

This is designed to improve market access between the two countries and to increase knowledge sharing, which will benefit both nations.

This follows Australia’s earlier joint statement of cooperation in quantum with the United States.

And we will work to forge more bilateral agreements to collaborate more closely with our international partners on quantum.

I want to acknowledge the great work being done in the Quantum space by our chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley. 

She’d leading a great new initiative supported by CSIRO and other agencies and organisations, hosting a series of ‘Quantum Meets’ workshops.

These workshops will introduce the quantum opportunity to sectors across the economy to help accelerate the uptake of these technologies.

France and Canada have been inspired to launch similar events. It’s great to see other countries picking up on the value of these world-leading workshops.

The first workshop was held in August last year. The ‘Quantum Meets Sport’ event involved the Australian Institute of Sport and the new Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Quantum Biotechnology. 

It led to the Queensland Government committing $5 million to have quantum in the Olympic and Paralympic Games! They even designed the Q-bit mascot!

The National Quantum Strategy is about more than quantum technologies. It is about building things here.

Believing that Australia can be more than a research destination, or a place where we just dig it and ship it.

You are all testament to not just to our research strengths. But to our engineering ingenuity. Our outsized ambitions. Our ability to get the job done. 

In our quantum strategy is the seed of an idea that cynics roll their eyes at. That the future is happening here, not somewhere else. 

Quantum technologies are the future of made in Australia.

Our collective efforts – as industry, researchers, and governments – sees the world turning towards Australia for what’s next. 

Thank you for everything you do, and will do, to make Australia a world leader in quantum industries by 2030.