• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £5m in the exploration and acceleration of commercial opportunities in quantum technologies.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £5m

  • Opens: 08 Sep 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 15 Oct 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 22 Oct 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Exploring the commercial applications of quantum technologies - Collaborative R&D

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Defence, Science  and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), are investing up to £5m in the exploration and acceleration of commercial opportunities in quantum technologies. 

This competition is part of a five-year, £270m programme of investment by the Government to accelerate the growth of an emerging quantum technologies industry in the UK. 

It will help companies to conduct studies, make early-stage prototypes and test components at reduced cost. These early-stage activities will be crucial tools in driving expectations and mapping the potential value of new markets. 

We are primarily seeking to fund feasibility studies into early-stage evaluation of quantum technologies and components, but also collaborative R&D projects to accelerate the commercialisation of those quantum technologies and components that are nearer to market. 

Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. Business partners in feasibility studies, conducting pre-industrial research, may attract public funding of up to 65% of their total project costs (75% for SMEs). We expect feasibility studies projects to last between three and 12 months and to range in size from £50k to £250k.   

Up to £2m will be available for collaborative R&D projects conducting industrial research. Business partners in these may attract public funding of up to 50% of their total project costs (60% for SMEs). We expect collaborative R&D projects to last between six and 18 months and to range in size from £250k to £500k. 

The competition opens for both types of project application on 8 September 2014.  The deadline for applications is noon on 22 October 2014. A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in London on 11 September 2014; applicants should look on _connect for more details.   
 

Background

Quantum science, where light and matter are described by waves, was one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century.   

In this century, our understanding of  lasers, optics, cryogenics, vacuum systems and other technologies has advanced to the point that we are now  able to create quantum effects within light, ultra-cold atoms, electronic circuits, synthetic diamond and other objects, which cause them to behave in unexpected and exciting ways.   

Proof-of-science experiments have demonstrated that quantum effects can be used within technologies to give unprecedented performance.   

These quantum technologies could lead to ground-breaking commercial applications in areas as diverse as. 

  • communications 
  • measurement and metrology 
  • timing 
  • sensors 
  • computation 
  • simulation. 

The UK is a global leader in research into quantum physics. With our world-class industrial and academic capabilities in supporting technologies, such as nano-fabrication, optics and vacuum systems, and strong skills in multi-disciplinary working, quantum technologies could deliver huge benefits to the UK.   

Recognising this potential, the Chancellor's 2013 autumn statement pledged £270m to support a five-year national Quantum Technologies Programme to develop and exploit a new generation of technologies. This includes £50m, specifically for innovation, split between the Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC. 

The programme will build on existing research and early investments in quantum science. This competition will help to align companies with the national network of Quantum Technology Hubs within the Quantum Technologies Programme, as  well as other academic institutions and companies to identify, evaluate and develop commercial opportunities. 

Quantum systems require a combination  of many disciplines, such as optics, vacuum systems, imaging systems and control electronics systems, which are not commonly found within a single company. To create these products and to establish viable supply chains, new industry-to- industry and industry-to-academia collaborations are essential. 

We anticipate that this competition will help to identify, develop and refine the supply chain for a limited number of components, which will form the basis of multiple quantum systems with many, far-reaching applications.   

Some early uses for quantum technologies have already been identified, such as in geological survey and navigation. In addition to these applications, quantum technologies have the potential to be disruptive across a variety of other markets – in ways that we cannot currently foresee. The size of the potential markets has yet to be explored, however, and investment  is potentially high-risk.  
 

Scope

We are allocating £3m to feasibility studies to support early-stage evaluation of quantum technologies, and up to £2m for collaborative R&D projects to accelerate the commercialisation of technologies and components.   

This competition will help companies to conduct studies, make early-stage prototypes, and test components at reduced cost. These early-stage activities will be crucial tools in driving expectations and mapping the potential value of new markets.

The scope of both feasibility studies and collaborative R&D includes the development  of technologies which exploit one or more of the following five quantum phenomena (see this competition's Guidance for Applicants for an explanation of these terms): 

  • entanglement   
  • superposition   
  • Bose-Einstein condensates   
  • matter wave interferometry   
  • squeezed states.   

Applicants may consider developing quantum technologies across one of the following platforms: 

  • cold and/or trapped atoms and ions   
  • spintronics   
  • diamond-based   
  • superconducting junctions   
  • light and photonics. 

In addition to quantum technologies, some additional technologies have been identified as critical components or sub-systems within future quantum systems. They are also in scope and include, but are not limited to:   

  • vacuum systems and vapour cells 
  • stabilised-frequency laser systems 
  • integrated laser and vacuum systems 
  • interpretation algorithms and software, such as inversion mathematics 
  • single photon light sources and detectors 
  • optical clocks and supporting technologies. 
     

Collaborative R&D   

In funding collaborative R&D we are looking for projects that undertake industrial research, ideally leading to prototypes, and that address well defined market needs, which may include the market for academic equipment.   

This industrial research should constitute planned research or investigation aimed at the acquisition of new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services or for bringing about a significant improvement in existing products, processes or services. 

Examples of projects that would be in scope include, but are not limited to: 

  • designing and building a prototype for a miniaturised optical clock   
  • developing a quantum repeater device 
  • exploring the possibilities for high-volume manufacturing processes of gas-impermeable vacuum systems.  
     

Out of scope

The following quantum effects are out of scope for this competition: 

  • superconductivity and superfluidity   
  • metallic and semiconductor solid state devices (such as light-emitting diodes)   
  • plasmons and other exotic quasi-particles 
  • fundamental quantum research. 
     

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £5m to fund feasibility studies and collaborative R&D projects in this competition.   

Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved.   

Collaborative R&D   

For the collaborative R&D projects (industrial research), the business partner in the project can attract 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). Projects must be led by a business.   

We expect collaborative R&D projects to range in size from £250k to £500k, with the maximum total project size being £500k. We may consider larger projects, but applicants should discuss this with us before making their application. Projects should last between six and 18 months. 

Applications for both types of project are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the different subject areas that this competition covers. 

See whether your business fits the EU definition of an SME.

Looking for partners to work on your  project?

Go to _connect to find collaborators and networks. A special _connect group has been set up for this competition, publicising key events related to the competition, and also providing definitions and explanations of some of the scientific or technical terminology relating to quantum technologies.  

 

 

 

Application process

The feasibility studies and collaborative R&D elements of this competition will open for applications on 8 September 2014.   

All applicants must first register via our website, and the deadline for registration is at noon on 15 October 2014. The deadline for applications is at noon on 22 October 2014.   

Collaboration events will be held in Durham on 14 August, and Lancaster on 19 August. Details can be found here: https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/quantum-technology/events

A briefing will be held in London on 11 September 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend.  

 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 8 September 2014
  • Briefing (London): 11 September 2014
  • Registration deadline: 15 October 2014, noon
  • Deadline for receipt of applications: 22 October 2014, noon

 

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications. 

 

Publicity

As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.

The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.

E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.