The strategy focuses on five critical themes related to the development, investment and use of quantum technologies; securing the industry’s supply chain; building a quantum workforce; keeping the development of standards in line with the national interest; and ensuring that the ecosystem is ethical and inclusive.
Chief scientist Doctor Cathy Foley said Australia was “well positioned to benefit” from research conducted in local laboratories over the past 25 years.
“Our entrepreneurial spirit generates new start-ups and attracts big companies,” she said.
“This is our opportunity to grow a thriving deep tech industry built on long-term coordinated government investment and a critical mass of world-class Australian-trained quantum specialists.
“We are among the handful of countries embarking on a quantum ambition. But we must act now, as there is intense global attention for the promise of quantum.”
Australia led the world in quantum research in the early 2000s, but some thought we were risking it waste this advantage by not having a national initiative dedicated to growing local quantum businesses, research and investment.
The goal of the Quantum Strategy is to remedy this neglect through a series of 13 actions ranging from investments through the National Reconstruction Fund to actively monitoring supply chains impacting the quantum industry, and incorporating quantum science into school curricula , universities and TAFEs. .
Chris Vein, CEO of the Australian Computer Society (ACS), said the organization was “encouraged to see the government so involved in quantum technologies”.
“For decades, Australia has been a world leader in quantum computing and we are delighted to see the government recognize that and start nurturing the local ecosystem,” he said.
“ACS looks forward to working with Minister Husic and the rest of the government to develop policies, programs and pathways to get more Australians into rewarding technology jobs and ensure there are enough people with the right skills.”
For Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic, who has talked the government out of it quantum ambitions since being included in the portfolio last year, the strategy represents an important milestone – now the government must deliver on its promises.
“We have all the ingredients to maintain our existing quantum leadership into the next decade,” Husic said.
“This national quantum strategy – the first quantum strategy for Australia – brings them together and sets the course for a growing, vibrant quantum industry and research ecosystem.”
The strategy has been well received within the quantum industry.
Professor Michelle Simmons, founder and director of Silicon Quantum Computing, said it was “refreshing” that an Industry Minister supported the high-tech work of Australia’s top researchers.
“We have ambitions to build a large-scale quantum computer here in Australia,” she said.
“It feels like we’re on the precipice of something fantastic that we’ve been working on for a long time. It’s great to have the policy settings that support that.”
Dr. Andrew Horsley, CTO of Quantum Brilliance, said it was “great” to see Ed Husic’s support from the quantum industry, but that he would like to see the government take a more direct role when it comes to quantum technologies.
“One of the main things we see abroad is the government as the first customer,” he said.
“This helps support the growth of local quantum supply chains and facilitates other companies to come in and start experimenting and building on quantum computing.
“But that didn’t come across as strongly as we hoped in the strategy.”
Professor Michael Biercuk, founder and CEO of Q-Ctrl, said Australia has been given the opportunity to become a major player in the emerging quantum industry.
“We welcome Minister Husic’s broad and vocal support in supporting a vision for a quantum industry with widely shared benefits and aspirations that are not constrained by historical challenges,” he said.
Opposition science spokesman Paul Fletcher was, unsurprisingly, less enthusiastic about the strategy, calling it “very thin” and “full of flabby and essentially meaningless commitments”.
“There is a vague reference to a billion dollars in funding for critical technologies under the National Reconstruction Fund, but there is no commitment as to how much, if any, of this will go to quantum research or commercialization,” Fletcher said.