Sci-Tech Daresbury welcomes global pioneer in quantum computing development

Launch of new facility

US quantum computing company, PsiQuantum, has opened its first R&D facility outside North America, at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory.

PsiDaresbury is a new next-generation quantum computing centre, which has been backed by £9m of government funding, with a mission to build the world’s first large scale quantum computer, capable of solving commercially-relevant problems.

PsiQuantum’s location at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region, gives it vital access to STFC’s leading cryogenics experts, at one of Europe’s largest liquid-helium cryogenic plants.

Its work will lead on the development of advanced cryogenic systems, which are necessary as PsiQuantum’s single-photon detectors run at temperatures a few degrees above absolute zero.

This work represents a major step towards developing a ‘fault tolerant’ quantum computer, capable of solving commercially relevant problems.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, attended the official opening, and Paul Vernon, head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “It is an honour to welcome the Secretary of State to STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, as we also warmly welcome one of the world’s most exciting quantum computing companies to the campus.

“We are completely committed to working with PsiQuantum in its mission to build the world’s first large scale quantum computer.

“With the wealth of quantum engineering talent here in the UK, together we are poised to achieve significant breakthroughs in quantum computing, with the potential to transform the world we live in.”

Michelle Donelan said: “PsiQuantum choosing to take the next crucial steps in the development of their technology here in the UK is a resounding vote of confidence in the UK’s quantum capabilities, bolstered by our National Quantum Strategy.”

To realise the full potential of quantum computing, error correction and fault tolerance are required to limit the number of errors in algorithm output.

Fault tolerant computers will be the first quantum computing systems capable of being commercially useful, and are predicted to trigger a major transformation across industries, from healthcare to climate technologies.

Global management consultancy, McKinsey & Company, predicted that quantum computing technology will have a global market value of $1 trillion by 2035, and that industries should prepare now for this opportunity.

During the PsiDaresbury launch event, PsiQuantum also announced a new collaboration with STFC’s Hartree Centre, aimed at cultivating practical industrial applications in preparation for the advent of large scale, fault-tolerant quantum computing.

The Hartree Centre, also at Daresbury Laboratory, is home to some of the UK’s most advanced supercomputing experts and technologies, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics. It provides UK industry with access to advanced high performance computing technologies, expertise and training with the aim of boosting UK economic growth.

The project with the Hartree Centre has three aims:

  • Collaboratively develop algorithms to demonstrate the potential of PsiQuantum’s technology
  • Facilitate PsiQuantum’s collaborations with industry partners
  • Enhance the skillset of Hartree Centre experts in the field of quantum computing

Prof Mark Thompson, PsiQuantum co-founder and chief technologist, said: “The existing cryogenic infrastructure and scientific talent available to us at Daresbury Laboratory was a key reason behind our decision to choose the UK as our first global expansion site.

“We are also delighted to be working together with the Hartree Centre to develop fault-tolerant applications in anticipation of the arrival of utility-scale quantum computing.”

Kate Royse, director of the STFC Hartree Centre, said: “Here at STFC’s Hartree Centre, we are extremely excited to be working in partnership with PsiQuantum, in its mission to build the technologies needed to realise the potential of quantum computing.

“Quantum computing is set to change the world we live in, to transform industry and change our lives for the better. By bringing together the experience and capabilities of both the Hartree Centre and PsiQuantum, we are developing a capability in quantum technologies that will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of this field.

“This is an exciting stepping stone towards building a significant and resilient quantum computing ecosystem for the North West.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Our area has been an architect to some of the greatest inventions and discoveries that have transformed the world – and it’s a legacy we’re proud to be continuing today.

“By uniting world-leading experts and industry leaders, we’re innovating further and faster than ever before and developing technology that has the potential to not only transform industry – but change the world we live in.”