This page belongs to: National Quantum Strategy

Message from Australia's Chief Scientist

Dr Cathy Foley AO PSM FAA FTSE
Australia's Chief Scientist

Australia has had its finger on the quantum pulse since Professors RQ Twiss and AG Little published the first paper on time-correlated photons in 1959. Since then, and especially in the past 25 years, we’ve made significant research investment, resulting in an emerging Australian quantum industry that is destined to have a significant impact on all of our lives.

The impact of the quantum revolution will be comparable to the digital revolution that brought us transistors and lasers, which are the basis of all our modern electronics, computers and communications.

Quantum sensors are already enabling the detection of things that were previously hidden to us down to the tiniest scales, bringing new sensitivity in medical imaging and in detection of underground mineral deposits. Australia’s quantum industry will improve cyber security with advances in quantum encryption and communications. Quantum computers will enable calculation, modelling and data management in ways impossible for classical computers.

Australia is well positioned to capitalise on the amazing research that is making its way out of the lab. Our entrepreneurial spirit is generating new start-ups and attracting major companies. This is our chance to grow a thriving deep-tech industry, built out of coordinated, long-term government investment and a critical mass of world-class Australian-trained quantum specialists. We are in the top handful of countries embarking on a quantum ambition. But we have to act now, as there is intense global attention on the promise of quantum.

In 2020, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) worked with Australian quantum researchers to prepare a roadmap that articulated the opportunity. The National Quantum Strategy is the next step, with the aim of ensuring we realise the opportunity.

This strategy will evolve and be updated as needed to reflect the rapid changes occurring across the Australian quantum industry, with the creation of new companies, new global investments and a maturing regional opportunity.

What is clear is that success requires a concerted system-wide focus, to ensure skills development and workforce inclusivity, access to infrastructure and the right regulation. This is a shared mission whose goal is to improve our lives, solve global environmental, medical and energy challenges, and understand more about our place in the cosmos as we chart humanity’s future.

It was such an honour to lead the development of Australia’s National Quantum Strategy. With the support of a dedicated taskforce in the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, we have engaged with industry leaders, academics, investors and government officials. We visited many companies, start-ups and labs across Australia and overseas, including in the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea. There have been 9 roundtables, 6 town hall meetings and 2 public consultation papers. A National Quantum Advisory Committee was established and has provided excellent insights, feedback and advice. Engagement from the quantum community has been phenomenal and I thank all contributors.

This process has strengthened my confidence that, with clear-eyed determination, investment and a collaborative approach across government, research and industry, the transformative capabilities of quantum technologies are ours to realise.