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The Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing celebrate World Quantum Day and support the UK’s quantum strategy

14 Apr 2023 by Faye Holst

Today, 14 April, is World Quantum Day, a global initiative led by scientists from more than 44 countries around the world to promote public understanding of quantum science and technology. On this day, scientists come together with engineers, educators, historians, philosophers, artists, and organisations to mark the occasion. The Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing together join in the celebrations and support the UK’s quantum strategy. 

‘Quantum’ is a bit of a buzzword – which isn’t a surprise as quantum is everywhere. Quantum technologies have the potential to transform the way people live and to revolutionise industries as diverse as computing, communications, defence, security, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. It governs the behaviour of atoms, and the effects of quantum physics underpins everything from the ability of plants to turn sunlight into chemical energy to the behaviour of semiconductors in microchips. 

Openly sharing quantum research enables the global science community and anyone who might benefit from the research to build on the latest findings and expand our knowledge of this promising and fast-evolving field. That’s why today, on World Quantum Day, we are launching a special collection consisting of our most popular, cutting-edge quantum research published in the last two years. As academic publisher, we are proud to make this research visible to the widest audience possible and recognise the exceptional potential of quantum research and technology through our early career quantum awards

Harnessing the potential of quantum not only bears the promise of ground-breaking advances in science, but it can also truly support the UK’s ambition to become a  #ScienceSuperpower, and resonates with IOP’s strategy to unlock the powerful potential of physics so that the UK and Ireland can realise the full societal and economic benefits of the new industrial era. 

With the establishment of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the UK has put science at the heart of their mission to be the most innovative economy in the world, and a science and technology superpower. Quantum technologies are at the core of this mission, not only as one of the UK’s five priority technologies of tomorrow – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms – but also as a technology that could release the full potential of every item other on that list.  

In support of this vision, the Institute of Physics (IOP) shaped the debate with its members which led to the report A Vision for Quantum Technologies in the UK, with the aim of providing support to the UK government’s quantum strategy.  

The report proposes a vision for the UK quantum sector and makes 10 recommendations to enable the realisation of this vision, focusing on: roadmaps for the commercialisation of quantum goods and services; the development of a supporting ecosystem and the capacity for scale; the creation of a strong skills base to support quantum industries; and wider enablers including partnerships and communications. 

We argue that a UK quantum strategy needs to support each stage of the journey towards commercialised quantum-based products and services, from foundational research through to market, through the provision of direct and indirect support, co-ordination and planning, and aligned policies addressing skills and other enabling factors. 

As representatives of the physics community, we believe the government should target significant growth of the sector in terms of its overall value, the numbers of businesses and employees, and the extent to which the quantum ecosystem is driven by high-productivity companies. 

After all, quantum research and technologies are evolving rapidly, and fresh perspectives are key to the development of a field that connects many disciplines and touches on every aspect of our lives.  

Louis Barson, IOP director of science, innovation and skills 

Antonia Seymour, Chief Executive, IOP Publishing 

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