The UK is boosting its AI and quantum research funding

23 Nov 2023

Image: © Mistervlad/

Part of the UK strategy is to deploy an advanced quantum network at by 2035 with benefits for healthcare, telecoms, transport and more.

UK chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced several funding boosts in the science and tech industries, with a particular focus on AI supercomputing.

In the Autumn Statement yesterday (22 November), Hunt said the UK will benefit from a £500m investment in AI supercomputing over the next two years, aiming to make the country “an AI powerhouse”.

The government is also building on its national quantum strategy, first announced in March of this year, with a mission to have accessible, UK-based quantum computers that can run 1trn operations and an advanced quantum network at scale by 2035. This refers to the number of operations a quantum computer can perform before a single logical error occurs.

Other missions baked into the quantum strategy include having every NHS Trust benefiting from quantum sensing-enabled solutions, deploying quantum navigation systems on aircraft and having mobile, networked quantum sensors across critical infrastructure all by 2030.

Many in the industry praised the announcements in AI and quantum. Ashley Montanaro, co-founder and CEO of quantum company Phasecraft said he’s delighted to see the ongoing commitment to support the quantum industry.

“The long-term support for work on quantum hardware, algorithms and software provided by the UK’s quantum computing mission is essential to help the industry go beyond these early advantages and will enable quantum computers to deliver a host of scientific and technological breakthroughs of great benefit to society,” he said.

Dr Marc Warner, CEO of AI company, said the £500m funding in AI is encouraging. “Funding further innovation centres to build on the success seen in Edinburgh and Bristol will only help to move us further towards better public services, better performing companies and more empowered individuals,” he said.

“More statements of intent like the £100m investment in and creation of the AI Safety Institute, alongside the AI Regulatory Sandbox planned for next spring, are needed to ensure innovation is balanced with safety.”

However, for Tim Callan, chief experience officer at Sectigo, Hunt’s 10-year quantum plan falls short when it comes to safeguarding encryption security.

“The paradox is evident. While the remarkable processing power of quantum holds boundless potential, it simultaneously poses a significant threat to the foundation of all encryption,” he said.

“We must not forget the security challenges associated with this advanced technology. In the event that a country does develop a quantum computer capable of breaking current encryption methods, it is likely that they would keep it a closely guarded state secret, as the UK did when it broke the enigma code during World War II. For this reason, it is imperative that businesses take their own proactive measures to prepare for this eventuality by transitioning to quantum-safe algorithms before it is too late.”

The UK’s autumn statement follows a major AI summit in the country at the beginning of November, where countries across six continents signed the Bletchley Declaration on AI safety. During the summit, the government also announced an investment of £225m to create an AI supercomputer that will be the country’s most powerful machine

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic