Minister announces £204 million investment in doctoral training and Quantum Technologies science

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Photo of Jo Johnson MP

Jo Johnson MP, Universities and Science Minister

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has announced two major investments in science and engineering research totalling £204 million.

Forty UK universities will share in £167 million that will support doctoral training over a two year period, while £37 million will be put into developing the graduate skills, specialist equipment and facilities that will put UK Quantum Technologies research at the forefront of the field.

The minister made the announcements during a visit to the University of Oxford where he met academics working in the Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) Quantum Technology Hub, which is led by Professor Ian Walmsley, one of four that form part of the £270 million UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

The funds for doctoral training will come from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which has changed how funding is allocated through its Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).

The DTP funds will support students for the academic years beginning October 2016 and 2017. The changes have been made to give institutions greater certainty and increased time to plan their DTP programmes. The University of Oxford will receive £13.5 million for its programme.

The Quantum Technologies funding is split between three Quantum Training and Skills Hubs in Quantum Systems Engineering, and seven strategic capital investment packages. The Hubs will receive £12 million and £25 million will be allocated via capital.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: We are committed to securing the UK's position as a world leader in science and innovation. The Government is ensuring major new discoveries happen here, such as the creation of super-powerful quantum computers which scientists are working on in Oxford. This new funding builds on our protection for science spending by supporting research in our world-leading universities and helping to train the science leaders of tomorrow.

EPSRC's Chief Executive, Professor Philip Nelson, said: This year we are allocating £167 million to universities via Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs). These will cover a two year period and give institutions greater certainty and increased time to plan their DTP programmes, and support excellent doctoral students.

In addition, we are investing in training and providing capital for research to ensure that the National Quantum Technologies Programme can make the most of the country's research talents.

These strategic investments will help science push at the boundaries and make discoveries that are taken through into innovations.

The funding is a part of the Government's ongoing commitment to UK science, with a record £6.9 billion invested in science labs and equipment up to 2021, and protection of the science budget at £4.7 billion per year in real terms for the rest of the parliament.

Notes to editors:

Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP)

This year forty universities will benefit from the Doctoral Training Partnership funding, which ranges from £489,000 to nearly £18.5 million. The DTPs are awarded to universities for the provision of doctoral study and are allocated on the basis of EPSRC research grant income, and fellowships. They were previously known as Doctoral Training Grants.

The flexibility of the DTP allows universities to leverage funds, for example from industry, and potentially support higher numbers of students. Previous use of DTP has resulted in award-winning research papers that have sparked further investment in research from industrial partners and other international funding bodies.

The grants allow institutions to be flexible in terms of student recruitment and retention, and enable them to vary the length of support (between three and four years) dependent on the project.

The 2016 DTPs have been awarded to the following 40 universities:

  • Aston University
  • Brunel University London
  • Cardiff University
  • Cranfield University
  • Durham University
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Imperial College London
  • King's College London
  • Lancaster University
  • Loughborough University
  • Newcastle University
  • Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)
  • Queen's University of Belfast
  • Swansea University
  • The University of Manchester
  • University College London
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bath
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Reading
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

Quantum Technologies Investments

The new Training and Skills Hubs Quantum Systems Engineering will be nodes within the national network of Quantum Technology Hubs and deliver a package of skills training, co-working and mobility, and career development initiatives to develop high-level skills in quantum engineering.

The Strategic Capital investment will contribute to the aims of the UK's National Quantum Technology strategy by adding to and expanding the UK's quantum technology capability. These investments will be focused on four areas:

  • Building technical capability
  • Manufacturing tools
  • System/subsystem design
  • Acceleration of innovation

Details of the work the skills and capital investments will support are listed below:

Training and Skills Hubs in Quantum Systems Engineering led by:

  • Professor Myungshik Kim at Imperial College London,
  • Professor Andrew Fisher at UCL
  • Professor Mark Thompson at the University of Bristol

They will focus on training the next generation of quantum engineers through research programmes. These will equip them to function in the complex research and engineering landscape where quantum hardware (with the attendant challenges in cryptography, complexity and information theory, devices, materials, software and hardware engineering) meets real devices, real applications and real customers.

At Imperial graduates will be trained in a skillset to understand cutting-edge quantum research, with a mindset toward developing this innovation, and the entrepreneurial skills to lead the market.

The UCL Hub will build on the existing expertise that rests with the EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training, in Delivering Quantum Technologies and Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems, along with the UCL Centre for Systems Engineering and their commercial and governmental laboratory partners.

While the University of Bristol Hub's ambition is to build upon the already successful Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training (QE-CDT) at the university and partner with Cranfield University's Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship to create a world-leading Hub to train entrepreneurially-minded quantum systems engineers ready for a career in the emerging Quantum Technology (QT) industry.

Quantum Technologies Strategic Capital investments are:

Professor Maurice Skolnick, University of Sheffield

This grant will fund advanced crystal growth equipment to enable the growth of nanometre-scale semiconductor quantum dots with world-leading properties. These properties include emission limited only by fundamental properties of the dots unaffected by the surrounding environment, and ordered arrays of dots, critical to enable scale-up and to translate the much excellent science of quantum dots to highly competitive Quantum Technologies.

Professor Andrew Briggs, University of Oxford

Quantum technologies require complex control systems and packaging to ensure that the quantum effects that they use are not corrupted by their environment or external disturbances such as magnetic fields.

Complex simulation tools, which allow a 'virtual' prototype of the control and packaging to be created are beginning to be applied to these systems. The aim of this project is to build on this, and develop standard methods that allow detailed simulation of a wide range of quantum technologies. These models and methods will be evaluated by using a test platform to measure the performance of the 'real' hardware against the simulated prototype.

Professor Oleg Astafiev, Royal Holloway University of London

Superconducting Quantum Technology (SuQT) - a state-of-the-art electron beam lithography (EBL) system that will enable the exploration and exploitation of a new generation of SuQT including quantum meta-materials, coherent quantum phase slip (with consequent potential for a redefinition of the unit of electrical current, the Ampere), microwave quantum optics and quantum limited amplification as well as further development of multi-qubit devices. As world leaders in the field Royal Holloway's team will build on its strong collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory and initiate a further collaboration with JEOL, the world-market leaders in EBL systems to form a consortium that can offer SuQT nanofabrication facilities.

Professor John Morton, UCL

Quantum Engineering of Solid-State Technologies, or QUES2T- to address the capability gap in quantum solid-state technologies and ensure the UK is in a strong competitive position in some of the most high-impact and scalable quantum technologies. In QUES2T we focus on three solid-state platforms which are well-poised to make significant commercial impact: i) silicon nano-devices, ii) superconducting circuits and iii) diamond-based devices.

Professor Mark Thompson, University of Bristol

Will establish a UK quantum device prototyping service, focusing on design, manufacture, test, packaging and rapid device prototyping of quantum photonic devices. QuPIC will provide academia and industry with an affordable route to quantum photonic device fabrication through commercial-grade fabrication foundries and access to supporting infrastructure. QuPIC will provide qualified design tools tailored to each foundry's fabrication processes, multiproject wafer access, test and measurement, and systems integration facilities, along with device prototyping capabilities.

Professor Tim Spiller, University of York

To connect BT Research and the major ICT and telecommunications cluster at Adastral Park, Martlesham, to the UK Quantum Network (UKQN) being built by the Quantum Communications Hub. This will enable new and direct collaborations between companies at Adastral Park and the Hub partners, accelerating innovation. It will offer QKD and trial quantum-encrypted data services to a large cluster of companies in the very important telecommunications sector. It will enable major Showcase and Demonstration events for quantum technologies, utilising the outstanding facilities at Adastral Park.

Professor Richard Curry, University of Surrey

To install the world's first single ion implantation tool with 20nm lateral beam focus, with the ability to implant any species from gas or solid source. The tool will serve the UK need for an open access user facility for academia and industry in QTs.

UK National Quantum Technologies Programme

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (UKNQTP) aims to ensure the successful transition of quantum technologies from laboratory to industry. The programme is delivered by EPSRC, Innovate UK, BIS, NPL, GCHQ, Dstl and the KTN.

Quantum Technology Hubs

The University of Oxford (led by Professor Ian Walmsley) - Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) (Quantum Computing/Simulation)

Quantum information processing will enable users to solve problems that even the most powerful of today's supercomputers struggle with. They will accelerate the discovery of new drugs or materials by simulating different molecular designs using programmable software, thus dramatically reducing the laborious trial and error of making each molecule in the laboratory.

Another application is making sense of 'big data', the immense torrent of information about economics, climate, and health that can help us make better predictions of future trends.

The Oxford-led Hub partners with academics from the universities of Bath, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex and Warwick, as well as dozens of national and international companies.

The University of Birmingham (led by Professor Kai Bongs) - UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors and Metrology

Quantum Sensors and Metrology will dramatically improve the accuracy of measurement of time, frequency, rotation, magnetic fields, gravity and other key fundamental measures, which will have impact across a wide range of fields, from electronic stock trading to GPS navigation. They will deliver unprecedented views into the brain for dementia research and into the ground allowing reduced roadworks, detecting sinkholes and finding archaeological treasures.

The Birmingham-led Hub partners with academics at the universities of Southampton, Strathclyde, Sussex, Nottingham and Glasgow and aims to build a supply chain for quantum sensor technology, build a series of quantum sensor and metrology prototype devices and develop the market and links between academia and industry.

The University of Glasgow (led by Professor Miles Padgett) - QuantIC (Quantum Enhanced Imaging / Sensing)

QuantIC will develop new types of camera with unprecedented sensitivity and the capacity to time the arrival of the detected light. These cameras will open up new markets in medical imaging; security and environmental monitoring; and manufacturing of high value materials. Quantum cameras will be able to visualise gas leaks, see clearly through smoke, look round corners or underneath the skin. Quantum sensors developed by the Hub will detect single contaminant molecules and detect electromagnetic and gravitational fields with exceptional sensitivity.

The University of Glasgow-led Hub partners with academics from the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Oxford, Strathclyde, and Heriot-Watt University.

The University of York (led by Professor Tim Spiller) - Quantum Communications Hub

Quantum Communications can transform the security of data and transactions across multiple sectors and users, ranging from government and industry to commerce and consumers.

The York-led Hub is aiming for breakthroughs that will lead to widespread and affordable use of the technology. These include: chip-scale integration based on Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), thus reducing the size and manufacturing costs of equipment; building a UK Quantum network for the demonstration and testing of new equipment and services - providing early access to advanced technologies for industry, business clusters and communities of users.

The Hub partnership includes leading researchers from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Heriot-Watt, Leeds, Royal Holloway, Sheffield, Strathclyde and York, collaborating with world-class researchers working in the labs of industrial partners.

Several companies and organisations are formally involved in one or more of the Hubs these include: BT, Toshiba, e2v, M Squared Lasers, Dstl, AWE, NPL, Thales, Coherent Lasers, BP, Compound Semiconductor, GCHQ, Selex, Oxford Instruments, and Kelvin Nanotechnology.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Reference: PN 12-16

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