Trinity and Microsoft team up in bid to boost quantum research

11 Jun 2021

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland, and Prof Linda Doyle, the incoming provost of Trinity College Dublin. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Microsoft will fund quantum research PhDs at TCD and provide scholarships for women in a new quantum science and technology master’s course.

Microsoft Ireland and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have teamed up in a bid to accelerate advancements in quantum tech and train new leaders in this field.

The tech giant has said it will provide funding to support PhD students working on cutting-edge quantum research at TCD. It will also establish a scholarship programme for women in the master’s course in quantum science and technology at the university, which will start in September 2021.

The collaboration is expected to support research teams in the TCD School of Physics and also encourage interactions with private sector research to boost activity in this field in Ireland.

‘Focused mechanisms will help us attract more females not only into the area of next-generation quantum technologies but also wider STEM-related industries’

Prof John Goold, who will direct the new MSc course, said that teaming up with Microsoft will help advance an area of research that is “blossoming and promises to revolutionise technology” in the coming years.

“We are also delighted that Microsoft is supporting a female-only scholarship programme for the new MSc in quantum science and technology,” Goold added.

“As diversity has grown in my research team at Trinity, we have been more creative in pursuing and delivering high-quality science. Female uptake in certain STEM subjects remains low but initiatives like this are helping to drive positive change.”

Quantum computing is an area of tech that is still in its infancy, but promises to solve problems in seconds that would take today’s fastest computers thousands of years to solve.

With this technology, it could be possible to solve computational problems far beyond the reach of traditional computers – something that could have applications across a range of industries, from developing pharma advancements to tackling the climate crisis.

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland, said that quantum computing is an area of focus for the company as it presents “unprecedented possibilities” to solve some of society’s most complex challenges.

“That is why we are so excited to team up with the team at Trinity to put a focus on advancing research in this area and help to position Ireland as a leader in quantum technologies,” she added.

“The introduction of the female scholarship programme is a welcome one and I believe more focused mechanisms such as this will help us to attract more females not only into the area of next-generation quantum technologies but also wider STEM-related industries.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said that seeing Ireland at the forefront of quantum research is “tremendously important” and that bringing more diversity into cutting-edge science is “crucial” for Ireland’s higher education system.

Applications are now open for the scholarship programme.

Another industry-focused tech education initiative was announced earlier today (11 June). Manufacturing company Thermo King and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology have teamed up on a new bachelor of engineering degree in automation and robotics, which will give students hands-on experience in this area.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic