This page belongs to: National Quantum Strategy

Theme 1: Thriving research and development, investment in and use of quantum technologies

The Australian Government will:

  • invest in, connect and grow Australia’s quantum ecosystem so we continue to compete with the world’s best
  • incentivise the growth of quantum technologies helping to address national challenges
  • catalyse private and public investment in industry-ready quantum technologies.

Immediate actions

Action 1.1

Design new programs to incentivise the continued growth of quantum use cases in sensing, communications, and computing. The goal of these programs should be to fast-track projects using quantum and other advanced technologies to solve significant national challenges.

Action 1.2

Support initiatives to drive ecosystem growth, support commercialisation and enhance domestic and international links with strategic partners. The government will seek out and support initiatives involving consortiums of universities, quantum companies and industry translating quantum research into commercial outcomes.

Action 1.3

Grow a pipeline of quantum companies and technologies for potential future investment through the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, with a minimum of $1 billion earmarked for investment in critical technologies.

What we’ve heard

Many of Australia’s quantum technology solutions are already commercially available or almost ready to be commercialised. We have many ongoing opportunities to capitalise on, including expertise and ideas built from years of investment in the research sector. This is backed by a government focused on long-term benefits.

Our entrepreneurs and researchers are investing their time and talent into the next wave of quantum technologies and applications. As quantum research and technologies mature, the commercial and industrial opportunities are becoming more prominent. There are already tangible, scalable applications across a range of industries, with more emerging. For example:

The sector faces challenges, including:

  • attracting more early-stage long-term capital
  • connecting ideas and solutions to businesses and investors.

But by demonstrating how quantum technologies can improve commercial outcomes and address key challenges, quantum researchers and businesses can demonstrate their strengths and attract investment. This includes demonstrating market-ready products and solutions, as well as long-term applications for key industries and national capabilities. By building stronger connections between academia, business and industry, and translating research into industrial and commercial applications, we will deliver on Australia’s quantum potential.

Australia’s small domestic market and smaller pool of venture and non-dilutive capital means quantum companies need to access overseas markets and investment. This is a challenge for the Australian quantum sector, whose growth will depend on stronger international connections and lower barriers to doing business overseas.

The quantum sector could also access existing programs to accelerate research and grow. One of these programs is the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan, a $2.2 billion investment to strengthen university innovation and industry collaboration. It includes:

  • Australia’s Economic Accelerator, a new $1.6 billion grant program to fund translation and commercialisation in national priority areas
  • the Trailblazer Universities Program, which will provide $362.5 million from 2021–2022 to 2025–2026. It will help 6 selected universities boost prioritised research and development and drive commercialisation outcomes with industry partners
  • the National Industry PhD Program, which includes $296 million to establish a suite of industry PhD and research fellowship schemes
  • the Higher Education Research Commercialisation Intellectual Property Framework, which gives universities standardised terms, clauses and agreements for collaborating on IP licensing, options and assignment. This will increase collaboration by universities and help Australian industries use research outputs
  • additional investment in the CSIRO ON program, which helps accelerate the impact of science research into market and has supported more than 3000 people from 52 Australian research organisations to turn their science into real-world solutions
  • additional investment in Main Sequence Ventures, which was created by CSIRO in 2017 and has already invested in several Australian quantum start-ups.

Other existing funding programs are:

Action impacts

These immediate actions address the challenges and opportunities identified in this strategy by:

  • helping academia, industry and the community work together to solve challenges by using quantum capabilities
  • growing Australia’s quantum ecosystem by improving coordination and collaboration between research and industry. This will identify the uses that will increase quantum uptake and investment
  • increasing investment by building on local expertise and sovereign capability to grow the economy, increase productivity and create jobs.

National Reconstruction Fund

The Australian Government is establishing the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) to support, diversify and transform Australia's industry. This will secure our future prosperity and drive sustainable economic growth.

The NRF will target projects and investments that help Australia capture new, high-value market opportunities. This will help our businesses grow and succeed in the economy of tomorrow. The NRF will provide finance (including loans, guarantees and equity) to drive investments that add value and develop capability in 7 priority areas. The NRF will partner with industry to unlock private sector investment to create sustainable industries and secure, well-paid jobs.

The NRF will be an independent financier that operates commercially to deliver a positive rate of return. It will be governed by a board who will make independent investment decisions guided by an investment mandate.

One of the NRF’s priority areas is enabling capabilities. It includes $1 billion of finance to grow advanced manufacturing and support businesses to innovate and move up the technological ladder.

A further $1 billion will be used to grow critical technologies. This will support home-grown innovation and build industry capability in areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics and software development. The NRF will commence operation in 2023.

Case study

Quantum supporting medical testing

Quantum scientists at the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, are developing FeBI (ferritin bound iron) diagnostic technology using a patented quantum sensing technology to detect iron loading within serum ferritin.

This new technology contrasts with current tests which are confounded by inflammation due to their reliance on the ferritin protein levels rather than iron. A working prototype has been demonstrated to be functional on laboratory ferritin samples and the team is currently applying for funding and investment for clinical validation and commercial development.

Case study

Exploring quantum possibilities with edge devices

Robots, a drone and an armoured vehicle
Autonomous vehicles and robotics are examples of edge computing devices. Credit: Quantum Brilliance

Autonomous vehicles, robotics, and smartphones are just 3 examples of edge computing devices that have become mainstream technologies. However, edge technology does not yet have the computational ability necessary to handle complex algorithms, limiting the application of mainstream edge computing devices for heavy-duty computing.

Quantum computing could change that. As part of the Quantum Pioneers Program, the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre partnered with Quantum Brilliance to enable industry and research teams to explore the possibilities of edge quantum computing. One example of this is accelerating speech transcription at the edge.

Quantum Brilliance worked with an industry partner Trellis to develop the Quantum Decoder – a hybrid quantum–classical application that seeks to improve speech transcription algorithms. The Quantum Decoder will replace the ‘beam search’ decoder algorithms that are deployed in many everyday applications like vehicles and smartphones. Classical decoder algorithms truncate input data to provide results quickly, but some input information is lost, reducing accuracy.

The Quantum Decoder promises to be both fast and accurate. It uses a quantum computer to decode the input signal in a reasonable timeframe with no loss of information. This provides better accuracy at the same computational speed as similar-sized classical systems. The Quantum Decoder could be generalised to any signal processing problem, not just speech transcription. This means it has the potential to impact many industries, autonomous vehicles, robotics, smartphones, satellite image processing and manufacturing optimisation.

 

Case study

Value chain for domestic supply and manufacturing

A man working on quantum equipment in a laboratory while a man and woman look at a computer screen
Silicon Quantum Computing laboratory at UNSW Sydney. Credit: Silicon Quantum Computing

Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) has worked with Australian industry to help build an end-to-end quantum value chain.

To feed the manufacturing underway, SQC secures raw materials from a local provider Silex Systems. With the support of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources’ CRC program, Silex expanded its operations to include the production of isotopically pure silicon at its facilities in Lucas Heights, NSW.

Down-stream of the hardware, SQC procures services from quantum software company Aqacia, which helps develop machine learning tools focused on accelerating quantum computing chip development and insights. While SQC is one of their local ‘anchors’, the digital nature of the company means that Aqacia is able to provide services to, and earn revenue from, all over the world.

At the other end of the local value chain, SQC has had a long-standing relationship with the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra, its co-development partners who recognised early the transformational nature of quantum computing to their business. As the technology continues to mature, these essential partnerships have informed the company of the valuable use cases and accelerated the development of the full quantum computing stack in SQC to meet these requirements.