This page belongs to: National Quantum Strategy

Theme 4: Standards and frameworks that support national interests

The Australian government will:

  • be an active participant in global standards-setting bodies to promote the development of standards that support a thriving, accessible and safe quantum ecosystem
  • ensure Australia’s regulatory frameworks foster quantum-related research, support investment in quantum companies and support exports while protecting Australia’s national interests.

Immediate actions

Action 4.1 

Work across government to ensure that regulatory measures and frameworks are fit for purpose to maximise opportunities and manage risks while protecting Australia’s national interests.

Action 4.2 

Explore options to strengthen collaboration and opportunity for industry with our established partners through existing arrangements and potential partnership arrangements, including AUKUS, the Quad, and other regional and special bilateral agreements.

Identify and consider opportunities to grow Australia’s regional leadership through collaborative programs of research, science diplomacy and provisioning access to infrastructure.

What we’ve heard

Quantum technologies could give Australia enormous commercial and sovereign capability advantages. We must protect Australia’s national interests while taking full advantage of the opportunities for Australia’s quantum researchers and industry.

We need to ensure responsible use of quantum technologies. Appropriate controls of these technologies will help protect our research, capabilities and investments.

Australia’s regulatory environment:

  • provides strong protections
  • ensures fair competition
  • supports national interests
  • promotes integrity in the market.

This effective regulatory environment gives certainty to businesses, investors and international partners looking to work with Australia. It also ensures our approach to technologies aligns with our values.

These regulatory frameworks need to remain fit for purpose and responsive to technological developments. This will ensure trust and confidence for investors and support Australia’s national interests.

Developing and using quantum technologies could have significant implications for our national security. These technologies could impact some of our most important national security functions including:

  • defence
  • intelligence
  • encryption
  • sensing and detection
  • computer processing
  • communications.

To increase our resilience, we will need to monitor the development of quantum technologies and their potential impacts on public safety and cyber security. We must address national security challenges and capitalise on opportunities for our exports, capabilities, researchers and companies. Australian academia and industry can contribute to our defence and national security by discovering and building new quantum capabilities. To fully realise those opportunities, we need strong and trusted Australian quantum companies.

Our stakeholders told us that navigating the regulatory environment can be a challenge for advanced and emerging technology industries, including quantum. For example, the necessary focus on mitigating risks and protecting our knowledge and capabilities can inhibit growth and commercial opportunities. Australian technology companies don’t have a large domestic market, which makes access to international markets critical for their survival and growth.

Actions impact

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

  • supporting a thriving, accessible and safe quantum ecosystem by considering regulatory frameworks, red tape and other barriers to exports and overseas investment
  • supporting investment and exports while protecting Australia’s national security by strengthening collaboration with trusted international partners
  • capitalising on Australia’s economic and strategic opportunities in quantum technologies.
Case study

Quantum clocks and sensors supporting our defence force

A device consisting of short, narrow crystalline cylinder jutting out of a wider one
The sapphire crystal at the heart of one of the world’s most precise clocks. Credit: QuantX

Building on their strong relationship with the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) at the University of Adelaide, QuantX Labs is developing groundbreaking quantum sensors and clocks.

These critical capabilities will:

  • enhance Australia’s security through better undersea and underground surveillance as well as opening the door to next-generation over-the-horizon radar technologies
  • support deployments of the Australian Defence Forces through enhanced navigation and surveillance capabilities
  • allow civilian and defence operations in regions in which satellite navigation systems are unavailable
  • provide support for critical civilian and defence infrastructure.
Case study

Army Quantum Technology Challenge

Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Simon Stuart AO DSC, views trade displays at the Army Quantum Technology Challenge. Photo: Australian Army
Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Simon Stuart AO DSC, views trade displays at the Army Quantum Technology Challenge. Credit: Australian Army

The Army Quantum Technology Challenge (AQTC) is an annual technology challenge and the flagship initiative of the Army’s Quantum Technology Roadmap.

The AQTC is designed to leverage Australia’s national strategic strength in quantum technology to rapidly identify the most disruptive and advantageous applications of quantum technologies for the land domain, while also stimulating the growth of the sovereign quantum industry that will deliver those capabilities to the Army.

Each year, the AQTC challenges teams to demonstrate solutions to one of three challenge themes, which span quantum sensing, computing and communications. The themes are derived from:

  • current Army problems
  • Army hypotheses about transformative effects that quantum technologies may have on land warfare
  • input from the quantum technology community.

Past themes have included:

  • subterranean imaging and locating electromagnetic emitters using quantum sensors
  • optimising last-mile resupply logistics and enhancing image processing using quantum computers
  • the disruption of satellite-mediated quantum communications and the implementation of post-quantum cryptography to harden the Army’s communications against attack from quantum computers.

To participate, teams propose a solution concept and undergo a selection process. Selected teams then receive seed funding to develop their solution over approximately 5 months before demonstrating it at the AQTC Demonstration Day. Since quantum technologies are diverse in technology readiness, demonstrations range from simulations to deployable prototypes.

Demonstration Day is a major event that is held in conjunction with the Chief of Army Symposium and the Army Robotics Expo. It provides the teams with the opportunity to interact with the full spectrum of junior soldiers to senior Defence leaders, and for those members to gain a tangible understanding of quantum technologies and their defence implications. At Demonstration Day, the teams are assessed by an evaluation panel drawn from across the services and groups and Army’s strategic partners.

The top-ranked teams are offered the opportunity to further develop their solution under significant Army Quantum Technology Exploit Projects. Being awarded an Exploit Project contract is the principal incentive for the teams. The projects are designed to bridge the gap from technology demonstrator to a field-deployable prototype that is ready for adoption by a land capability program.

Since commencing in 2021, the AQTC has achieved significant outcomes, including:

  • the identification of the profound and near-term advantages offered by quantum sensors in subterranean imaging
  • the innovation of countermeasures to these sensors by Army soldiers
  • the Army’s strategic partners identifying immediate opportunities to pursue with Australian industry.