Four universities are set to join forces and establish a Sydney Quantum Academy, with backing from the NSW Government.
The city-wide initiative led by the University of Sydney is in partnership with Macquarie University, UNSW and University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
The state government last night announced it would be putting $500,000 towards the development of a proposal for an academy, which will support postgraduate training and research and “assist the translation of fundamental research into high-tech, value-added jobs in the Sydney basin”.
“A Quantum Academy will also act as a magnet for outstanding global talent and help develop the next generation of quantum engineers,” University of Sydney’s deputy vice-chancellor (research) Professor Duncan Ivison, said.
The funding for the proposal is drawn from the $26 million NSW Quantum Computing Fund, which was established in July last year.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the investment would create education and economic opportunities for the state.
“We have a tremendous wealth of expertise in quantum science and technology in NSW. There are researchers here who the world is watching closely, as the race to develop the first fully-functional quantum computer heats up,” Berejiklian said.
“The Quantum Academy will train a future generation of quantum engineers to build and program these machines. The Academy will also build on the expertise across our universities to create a quantum ecosystem that will benefit NSW.”
The state has a high concentration of quantum expertise and research centres.
The University of Sydney is home to the $150 million Sydney Nanoscience Hub, which houses the Australian arm of Microsoft’s quantum research lab network.
Leading researchers at work in the hub include Professor David Reilly, director of Microsoft’s local lab; Professor Michael Biercuk, who launched quantum technology start-up Q-Ctrl late last year; and Microsoft’s Dr Maja Cassidy, who is working to prove the existence of Majorana fermions.
UNSW is home to the Australian Research Council backed Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, which is headed by Australian of the Year 2018, Professor Michelle Simmons.
“We have some exciting opportunities for translation in the quantum space, we need good people and I welcome the NSW Government’s support,” Simmons said.
UNSW is also the base for Australia's first quantum computing hardware company – Silicon Quantum Computing – which received $8.7m from the NSW quantum fund in August.
Research at Macquarie University is focused on the challenges around quantum-enabled technologies such as measurement and control, sensors and metrology and quantum simulation.
Work at UTS meanwhile looks at the software and programming challenges around a future quantum computer. Researchers there are soon to launch a programming environment and compiler for the quantum era.
“Sydney has one of the most impressive concentrations of quantum researchers in the world. Bringing that expertise together to train people from Australia and internationally will be a fantastic complement to the great work we are already doing,” said Professor Stephen Bartlett from the University of Sydney's Quantum Science Research Group.
The proposal will be written by the deputy vice-chancellors of the four universities. They are due to report to the government in August.