A new strategy for getting a bigger return on the UK’s membership of CERN launched as the Science and Tech Secretary visits the North West to open a next-generation quantum computing centre.

  • the UK’s Strategy for Engagement with CERN, the cross-national particle accelerator lab based in Geneva, launches at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory in the Liverpool City Region
  • the strategy sets out the government’s vision to unlock the full potential of the UK’s investment in CERN
  • the Science and Technology Secretary is visiting the north west to unveil PsiQuantum’s new next-generation quantum computing centre – the company’s first facility outside the US, backed by £9 million in government funding

A new strategy for getting a bigger return on the UK’s membership of CERN – the international physics lab where the World Wide Web was born – will launch today (Wednesday 4 October) as the Science and Technology Secretary visits the North West to open a next-generation quantum computing centre.

CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, is an unrivalled centre of global scientific and technical excellence and is home to the largest and most complex experiments ever constructed. The strategy recognises that although the UK plays a prominent role in many aspects of CERN, there is potential to boost return on the UK’s investment in this world leading facility.

It is precisely that world-class science being led by firms in the UK which brings the Secretary of State to Sci-Tech Daresbury today, where she will open PsiQuantum’s advanced research and development (R&D) facility. Backed by £9 million in government funding, it is the Silicon Valley start-up’s first quantum R&D facility anywhere outside the US.

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, 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. We are determined to drive the adoption of quantum technologies throughout our economy, with £2.5 billion backing over the next 10 years, to unlock untold advances in healthcare, green technology, and beyond.

The state-of-the-art facility opened today is a testament to the deep expertise and infrastructure built up over decades at tech clusters like the one in Daresbury, alongside our collaborative work with international partners like CERN. Taking our work with CERN to the next level will unlock even more opportunities like this one and make British innovators the partners of choice for international collaboration.

PsiQuantum’s work at Sci-Tech Daresbury in the Liverpool City Region will lead on the development of advanced cryogenic systems that are critical to developing a ‘fault tolerant’ quantum computer. Fault tolerant machines will be the first quantum computing systems capable of being commercially useful and tackling big problems from climate change to health.

Professor 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.

Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Champion for Infrastructure, said:

CERN addresses the most basic questions about the nature of Universe, through some of the most ambitious scientific projects ever conceived, including the Large Hadron Collider.

This pursuit of basic knowledge continually pushes the boundaries of technology, often finding surprising applications in innovative solutions to real-world problems. A strong role for the UK in CERN is an essential component of achieving the government’s ambitions to be a science superpower on the global stage, working on the most advanced technologies.

The UK has been a key player in CERN since its inception. With the publication of this Strategic Framework, we have reaffirmed our ambition to drive future scientific and technological progress at CERN, collaborating closely with our international partners. In doing so, we will increase the benefits of CERN membership to the UK, through enhanced participation of UK industry in cutting-edge projects at CERN and ever more opportunities for UK engineers and scientists to develop their skills at the forefront of science and technology.

The UK’s Strategy for Engagement with CERN is the result of renewed focus on our membership by the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). It sets out the UK’s ambitions to maximise the benefits of investment in CERN, both economically and more broadly, over the next ten years. The strategy is built on five pillars: research excellence, world class skills, international leadership, commercial impact and innovation and public engagement. It will be advantageous not only for the UK, but also for CERN as an organisation, its communities, and the other member states.

The development of this Strategy has been a consultative process, reflecting perspectives of stakeholders from across the UK CERN community. The Strategy sets out the government’s vision to unlock the full potential of the UK’s investment in CERN and remain central to its continued success by working with partners to lead scientific discovery and inspire the next generation.

Quantum is one of the five critical technologies which will play a key role in the UK’s future economic growth, one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities. The National Quantum Strategy, backed by a government commitment of £2.5 billion over ten years, sets out how government will help to create an economy that is ready to realise the benefits offered by these technologies. Quantum computers are anticipated to solve problems that would otherwise be impossible to solve on any supercomputer now or in the future, across industries including:

  • financial services
  • healthcare
  • climate technologies to drive large-scale decarbonisation

The UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme, and wider science programmes have helped to create a thriving ecosystem in the UK which PsiQuantum will only strengthen and help to accelerate the journey to fault tolerant machines. This includes collaborations with the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) and deep expertise held on the Daresbury site.

Transformative leaps in technology like quantum are only possible thanks to the fundamental research which the UK is a world-leader in, in partnership with international research organisations like CERN.

Part of STFC, Daresbury Laboratory is internationally recognised for world-leading scientific excellence in a diverse variety of fields ranging from nuclear physics to supercomputing. Since opening in 1962, it has been at the very cutting edge of breakthrough science, including contributions to three Nobel Prizes.

Notes to editors

About PsiQuantum

Powered by breakthroughs in silicon photonics and fault-tolerant quantum architecture, PsiQuantum is building the first utility-scale quantum computer to solve some of the world’s most important challenges. PsiQuantum’s approach is based on single-photon qubits, which have significant advantages at the scale required to deliver a fault-tolerant, general-purpose quantum computer. With their photonic chips manufactured in a world-leading semiconductor fab, PsiQuantum is uniquely positioned to deliver quantum capabilities reaching the scale needed to drive advances in climate technologies, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, finance, energy, agriculture, transportation, communications, and beyond. To learn more, visit www.psiquantum.com.

About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), funds and supports research in particle and nuclear physics, astronomy, gravitational research and astrophysics, and space science. It operates a network of five national laboratories as well as supporting UK research at a number of international research facilities including CERN, FERMILAB and the ESO telescopes in Chile. STFC is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and has a broad science portfolio, working with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise.

The National Quantum Technologies Programme and National Quantum Strategy

The UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) is a £1 billion dynamic collaboration between industry, academia and government. It represents and guides the fission of a leading-edge science into transformative new products and services.

The NQTP supports ideas, innovation and investment to secure UK advantage and opportunities in the globally competitive new quantum era. The NQTP acts as a cornerstone for the underpinning scientific research, skills training and international collaboration vital to building a resilient UK quantum-enabled economy.

The National Quantum Strategy published in March 2023 commits a further £2.5 billion over ten years to the development and commercialisation of quantum technologies for the benefit of society and the economy.

Published 4 October 2023