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Economist Impact’s Commercialising Quantum Global 2024 Event

Economist Impact’s Commercialising Quantum Global 2024 Event
Economist Impact’s Commercialising Quantum Global 2024 Event

Exploring the Quantum Revolution

The Economist Impact's 3rd annual Commercialising Quantum Global event brought together leaders, experts, and innovators from the quantum technology ecosystem to explore the promises, applications, and realities of this rapidly evolving field.

The two-day event focused on the commercialisation of quantum technologies and their potential to drive economic growth and solve complex challenges across various sectors. Topics ranged from scaling quantum systems and overcoming obstacles to fostering collaborative ecosystems and exploring synergies with artificial intelligence.

The UK's quantum progress and ambitions

The UK has set ambitious goals with its National Quantum Strategy. It aims to leverage quantum technologies to drive scientific and economic progress by investing £2.5 billion into the sector over 10 years. In 2023, the government created the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to deliver its mission of becoming the most innovative economy in the world and a science and technology superpower.

At the event, Peter Knight, Chair of the UK National Quantum Technology Advisory Board highlighted the progress made in the past year, including advancements in error correction and increased processor performance. Looking ahead, the focus areas for the coming year include improving error rates and demonstrating fault-tolerance, which are crucial milestones in the pursuit of practical quantum computing applications.

Quantum Sensing: an immediate quantum advantage 

Quantum sensing emerged as a promising frontier in many of the discussions, as it offers unprecedented accuracy and sensitivity. Presenters explored applications in sustainability and climate change monitoring, such as tracking ice melt rates. David Woolger, Managing director of Cerca Magnetics, presented their fascinating application of quantum sensing in neuroscience, they have used quantum magnetoencephalography (QM-MEG) to revolutionise brain imaging for conditions like dementia and autism.

QM-MEG's advantages, including its compact size, flexibility, motion robustness, improved data quality, and lower costs, make it a promising tool for early diagnosis of conditions. Dr. Margot Taylor from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) described how they are using Cerca Magnetic’s wearable scanners to detect signs of autism in children. These  "fun bicycle helmets" - as the children call them - make the brain scanning experience much less daunting than traditional MRI machines and allow them to perform scans on much younger children. This application not only showcases the potential of quantum sensing to gather deeper data for informed decision-making sooner but also demonstrates a use case that directly benefits society, particularly in the field of healthcare and child development.

The power of photonics

John Lincoln, Chief executive, UK Photonics Leadership Group, highlighted the ubiquitous yet understated role of photonics as a driver of economic growth. Scaling up photonic quantum computers presents challenges, but companies like PsiQuantum are taking innovative approaches with the aim to build a fault-tolerant, utility-scale quantum computer using photonics by 2027.

Overcoming the obstacles of noise, standardisation, and collaboration

With all its opportunities, it’s also important to highlight the drawbacks and challenges associated with quantum computing. Dr Lara Jehi, Chief Research Information Officer at The Cleveland Clinic highlighted a significant obstacle they have faced when implementing quantum strategies in practical applications is the clash of cultures between teams accustomed to working in silos now required to collaborate and work together towards a common goal. She compared it to “having a team that speaks French and a team that speaks Spanish, and asking them to produce a report in German.”

On the technical side, strategies for reducing environmental noise and optimising quantum sensors were discussed, along with the importance of standardisation efforts for wider adoption. The event emphasised the crucial need for collaboration between researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Scaling up

Scaling up quantum technologies will require significant capital, government support, and robust talent pipelines. Organisations like the Novo Nordisk Foundation shared its quantum investment strategies, while experts stressed the importance of fostering collaborative ecosystems and public-private partnerships to drive progress.

From NATO's perspective, quantum technologies have the potential to impact defence and deterrence strategies significantly. Matija Matokovic, Deputy head of innovation at NATO, highlighted the global reach and implications of quantum systems, underscoring the three ingredients for success: honest hardware, strong teams, and a relevant tech stack.

The AI-Quantum synergy

The complementary relationship between artificial intelligence and quantum technologies was a focus at the event. While the potential impact of quantum computing is evident, speakers acknowledged the challenges in justifying and effectively describing its transformative capabilities.

Quantum computing's ability to perform certain computations exponentially faster than classical computers could revolutionise AI applications, such as machine learning and optimisation problems. AI techniques can also be leveraged to assist in the development and control of quantum systems, as well as in the analysis and interpretation of the vast amounts of data generated by quantum experiments.

However, as quantum and AI technologies continue to evolve, emerging issues around their responsible development and deployment must be addressed. It’s necessary to have  ethical frameworks, robust governance, and collaborative efforts in place to mitigate potential risks and ensure these technologies are used in a responsible way.

Shaping a Quantum-Powered Future

The event highlighted the remarkable potential of quantum technologies to drive economic progress, spur innovation, and tackle complex global challenges. However, realising this potential demands a responsible and collaborative approach to address the multifaceted obstacles that lie ahead.

As nations race to achieve “quantum supremacy”, the geopolitical implications are significant with the potential for shifts in the global power landscape and the risk of a divide between countries with access to these technologies and those without. Robust international cooperation, coupled with the development of ethical guidelines and governance frameworks, will be essential to navigate the complex societal ramifications.

Taskeen Ali, Head of Futures at HMRC, highlighted the importance of understanding the human nature of our actions, ensuring the quantum solutions address the 5 p’s - pride, power, profit, pleasure, and permanency. Only by embracing responsible innovation, overcoming cultural barriers, and fostering a shared vision can we unlock the full potential of quantum technologies to shape a better future for humanity.

Working hand-in-hand with quantum companies, TFD aims to showcase the profound potential of quantum technologies and the companies making them a reality. For more information about TFD's Quantum Collective and its services, please visit or contact us at

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