The Quantum Innovation Lab is a collaborative, three day event between industry partners and academics. The goal is to take broad, enigmatic and imprecise questions related to the interests of the industry partners in quantum technology, and to refine them into clear and concise problems that can form the basis for future collaborative research.
What is Quantum technology?
Quantum technology refers to any device or protocol that exploits quantum mechanics to reach superior levels of performance over its conventional counterparts. The simplest categorisation divides quantum technology into four application areas: communication, computation, metrology, and sensing. Respectively, the promise of these research areas is to demonstrate cryptographically secure communications, the strength of which is guaranteed by quantum physics; develop both hardware and algorithms for a computing device, capable of solving problems in molecular simulation, optimisation and machine learning at speeds unattainable by other means; and construct a new generation of measurement and sensing technologies, operating at sensitivities inaccessible to conventional devices.
The event will be held over three days, and is structured into discovery and definition sections, with the objective of distilling precise research problems. The aim of the event is to explore a problem space in order to highlight the best directions forward, and not to provide the solutions.
The discovery phase will begin from an initial problem or research theme provided by the industry partners. The premise is that these initial problems identify a general direction that the partner wishes to explore in quantum technology, but do not need to be more refined than this. Open-minded and exploratory discussions will then expand the problem-space, using the expertise of the academics at the University of Bristol to identify its place within the broader landscape of the quantum technology field.
The definition phase will narrow down on particular problem areas by considering which of the strands identified in the discovery phase are integral to the initial problem whilst satisfying realistic requirements. These core issues will then be refined into rigorous and well-posed research questions.
If the discovery and definition phase rapidly converge to project ideas, tentative steps into the development stage can begin. Here, tasks and aims will be identified so that a product or service can be eventually realised in the near-term.
The discussions will take place in a precompetitive space, promoting active development of collaborations. There is potential for multiple sessions with separate industry partners to occur during the event, with the level of interaction between these sessions controlled by the industrial partners.
It is encouraged that an industrial partner is represented by 3-5 employees, with each involved in different levels of the company hierarchy.
After the event
There is significant scope for further exploration with researchers at Bristol. The Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training annually attracts a large cohort of talented PhD students eager to explore the benefits of quantum technologies to wider industry. These studentships can be sponsored by an industrial partner and so there is scope for outcomes of the Quantum Innovation Lab to be quickly translated into research.
Bristol is also a key institution in the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme, allowing it to catalyse collaborative efforts between industry partners and other universities in the UK; this collaboration could take the form of consultancy, or could result in joint applications for funding from national and international funding bodies.
Any projects that result from the Quantum Innovation Lab will be driven towards near-future products or services that can be commercialised.