Australia’s leadership in quantum technologies today is the result of sustained investment over decades. It’s a success story that speaks to patient public investment in basic research, the lure of our world-leading educational institutions and uniquely Australian skills and know-how. Now, with use of quantum technologies poised to grow globally by 33% over the next 5 years, and countries ramping up investment in domestic quantum capabilities, we cannot afford to lose our globally recognised edge.
Thirty years ago, Australian universities were some of the few in the world to offer postgraduate qualifications in quantum physics. Today, graduates of those programs are leading projects around the world, in industry and academia, from IBM to Alphabet, from the University of Bristol to Stanford University in the United States. Australian talent is here and overseas, and has been behind a range of breakthroughs in quantum applications, including quantum random number generators for cyber security and sensors for mining.
Quantum technologies are here, now. Throughout this strategy are examples of Australian-made innovations that have already moved from new ideas in university labs to commercial products used by industries. Quantum sensors are being deployed to detect ore deposits buried deep underground. Quantum random number generators are making global banking more efficient and more secure. Quantum control infrastructure software is being put to work on public transport optimisation challenges. And quantum computing – which is poised to transform industries and unlock previously intractable challenges – is edging closer to reality.
Quantum technologies will make a difference improving economic and national wellbeing. They have the potential to inform new drug discoveries, support emissions reduction, help us transition to a net zero economy and safeguard resilient cyber infrastructure. It’s no longer ‘if’, but ‘when’. Commercialising quantum technologies could create an Australian quantum industry worth $2.2 billion and directly employing 8,700 people by 2030. This could reach approximately $6 billion and 19,400 jobs by 2045. These technologies are expected to add billions of dollars of value to related industries in that timeframe.
Australians are innovators. We have some excellent success stories, but we don’t back our successes nearly enough. We have many notable examples of great innovations – including building one of the world’s first ever digital computers – but we’ve often fallen short translating early leadership into sustained commercial outcomes. We have all of the ingredients to sustain our existing leadership on quantum into the next decade. This National Quantum Strategy – the first quantum strategy for Australia – brings them together and sets the course for a growing, vibrant quantum industry and research ecosystem.
The National Quantum Strategy recognises the importance of commercialisation opportunities, robust infrastructure, a skilled workforce, clear standards and (most importantly) community trust to the long-term success of quantum in Australia. It has been drafted against a backdrop of accelerating geopolitical interest in quantum technologies, with the US, China, the UK and the European Union all scaling up investment in the last 2 years.
This National Quantum Strategy has been eagerly awaited - not just by our local ecosystem, but by international partners. It will be a useful guide for investments in quantum technologies by private and public investors alike. It will support the Australian Government in developing closer ties with trusted partners to collaborate on investments in quantum infrastructure and quantum solutions to global problems.
The Australian Government is revitalising manufacturing and investing in the skills, capabilities and strengths that sustain a resilient, innovative economy. Quantum technologies are critical to Australia’s national interests. We should all be proud of the outsized impact Australian quantum research and innovation has had on the global stage. And we must continue to grow our capabilities here.