Breaking ground at the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre

Professor Sir Peter Knight leads the breaking-ground ceremony at the NQCC. Credit: NQCC

Professor Sir Peter Knight led the formal breaking-ground ceremony at the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC).

The breaking-ground ceremony of the UK’s NQCC was held this week (20 September 2021), ahead of the commencement of construction works. It was led by Professor Sir Peter Knight, Chair of the National Quantum Technology Programmes Strategy Advisory Board.

Based within the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, the new research institution represents a £93 million investment through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is being delivered jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The NQCC is dedicated to accelerating the development of quantum computing by addressing the challenges of scaling the emerging technologies, enabling the UK to remain at the forefront of this transformative new field.

The national centre is part of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP): a 10-year, £1 billion programme that aims to ensure the successful transition of quantum technologies from laboratory to industry.

Marking this milestone event for the centre, Professor Sir Peter Knight, chair of the National Quantum Technology Programmes Strategy Advisory Board, said:

One of the most exciting things about quantum computing is that it will revolutionise the way that we can do all sorts of computational tasks, which at the moment are really limiting us.

There are many examples of how we can use a quantum machine, for example it is going to transform logistics and the simulation of important chemical processes.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said:

This is an important step forward in the journey towards creating a flagship facility for the UK quantum community to harness the exciting potential of this technology.

Breaking ground on this site brings us closer to realising our ambition of addressing the challenges in this burgeoning field by bringing together experts from the public, private and third sectors into one hub.

NQCC Director, Dr Michael Cuthbert said:

Watching our teams across UKRI working so well together with our external contractors throughout the conceptual, and engineering design stages has been really pleasing, especially with the additional challenges of home working and limited access to site.

The programme is not just about the facility and we continue to build our team as we recruit expertise into the new centre and deliver our technology programme in parallel. Exciting times for the NQCC and today is an important milestone for us.

Quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that are practically impossible even for the fastest of today’s supercomputers. Unlocking this power will catalyse the development of new technologies to deliver benefits across society.

These range from the design of enhanced batteries for electric vehicles through to speeding up the discovery of new medicines and materials. It includes identifying the most efficient use of resources to help us become an environmentally sustainable society.

The centre will work with businesses, government and the research community to deliver quantum computing capabilities for the UK and support the growth of the emerging industry.

Working closely with industry and research organisations, the NQCC will provide access to quantum computers as they come on stream, leading to new jobs, skills and knowledge creation. This will help UK businesses and researchers to tap into the potential of this technology to develop a range of applications for quantum computing, fully unlocking its capabilities.

The landmark facility will build on the UK’s existing strengths in quantum computing, establishing the NQCC as a world-leading scientific research institution. The ambition is to foster a vibrant environment that promotes collaboration between technologists and researchers and attracts visitors and industry interest from across the UK and internationally.

The mixed provision of office, meeting and laboratory spaces will enable multidisciplinary teams to collaborate, providing the necessary infrastructure and an environment to design, build, operate and host quantum computers.

The facility is due for completion in early 2023.

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to:


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