Funded by UKRI, Quantum Data Centre of the Future is one of 12 successful bids to receive a share of the £50m funding programme for UK quantum industrial projects from UKRI’s £170 million Commercialising Quantum Technologies challenge. Launched in 2014, the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP) continues to act as a strategic funder and catalyst in the rapidly growing UK quantum industry.
Quantum computers will enable us to create new innovations that will help us to develop technology and solve problems much more quickly than we can today. They will help us to look at and understand large amounts of data and solve sustainability challenges. As the volume and complexity of data increases, the systems in data centres will become more complex. The Quantum Data Centre of the Future project will explore how quantum systems can help manage and secure this ever-increasing complexity. The collaboration will develop quantum-safe communications solutions for modern data centres that enable users to securely and remotely access data, developing a future-proof system that is secured against both conventional and quantum computing attacks.
Within the programme, the NCC’s state-of-the-art 5G enabled industrial test beds will be used to generate real-world data to test and demonstrate how a quantum computer could be used to solve industrial challenges. Located at the NCC, the digital engineering test beds offer an open access technology environment that organisations can use to innovate, develop and de-risk rapidly configurable projects and industrial digital technologies before investment.
Quantum-secure technologies and communications has been a focus of the NCC, and Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI), a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority, which it leads. In April 2021, DETI, BT and Toshiba Europe Ltd announced the UK’s first pre-commercial Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network trial, which was used as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the potential for remote manufacturing and exploring the practical application of the technology to accelerate the shift to smart factories.
Marc Funnell, Director of Digital Engineering, National Composites Centre, commented, “Trusted, secure communication and analysis of vast quantities of data and simulations are the backbone to enabling a digital step change in industry. We are entering a new era of computing, with quantum technology pushing us to think differently about how to capitalise on and protect against this change.”
Jake Kennard, CAO, KETS, said, “We’re excited to be working with such a talented group of industry leaders, bringing together experts in quantum technologies & cybersecurity, data centres and telecommunications to develop communications for the data centre of the future. These direct collaborations across the value chain will enable development of solutions that can be deployed not only in the future, but also today.”
Richard Murray, CEO, Orca Computing, said, “Data centres are central to our lives, but so far no one has looked at how quantum technologies actually impact the technologies already out there. In this project, we will for the first time deploy quantum computers side-by-side and integrated with classical systems. This work is critical if quantum computers are to be used for real commercial applications, and to realise value from them in the near term.”
The consortium of project partners joining NCC in Quantum Data Centre of the Future includes BP, BT, Digital Catapult, Imperial College London, KETS, NCC Group Security Services, Orca Computing, PQShield, Riverlane, University College London, University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Southampton.