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Australia bets $111 million on quantum technology as part of national strategy

This comes as part of an action plan focusing on securing critical technologies for the country’s future

The Australian government is investing $111 million (£60 million) in quantum technology as part of a national strategy to secure critical technologies for the country’s future.

Prime minister Scott Morrison released the Blueprint and Action Plan for Critical Technologies today, which identified quantum technologies as one of the government’s nine technologies for initial focus. 

The investment allocates $70 million for a Quantum Commercialisation Hub, which will foster strategic partnerships with like-minded countries to commercialise Australia’s quantum research and help the country access new markets and investors. Morrison revealed that its first step is a joint cooperation agreement which the government has signed with the US.

The hub will be supported by the development of a National Quantum Strategy and quantum technologies prospectus, designed to align industry and government efforts and unlock greater private sector investment.

The strategy will be led by a National Committee on Quantum, a group of industry stakeholders and experts which will be headed by Australia’s chief scientist, Cathy Foley.

“This investment will help secure future economic opportunities for Australian businesses, create local jobs and importantly, it will help keep Australians safe,” said Morrison.

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The government says it has estimated that the development, commercialisation, and adoption of quantum technologies can deliver the country $4 billion in economic value and create 16,000 new jobs by 2040. It added that advances in the technology may improve Australia's communication networks, defence and national security capabilities, mining and manufacturing precision sensors, and quantum computing capacity. 

The investment is part of Australia’s new Blueprint for Critical Technologies which aims to protect and promote critical technologies in the national interest. It aims to ensure Australia has access to, and choice in, critical technologies and systems that are secure and reliable, as well as promoting the country as a trusted and secure partner for investment and research. 

It also looks to maintain Australia’s integrity of its research, science, and ideas to help national industries thrive and maximise its sovereign IP. Lastly, it wants to use the blueprint to support its regional resilience and shape an international environment that enables open and competitive markets, and secure and trusted technological innovation.

The blueprint’s action plan specifies the nation’s first-ever Critical Technologies List containing 63 critical technologies, but Morrison said the initial focus will be on nine for now.

The other eight are critical materials extraction and processing, advanced communications (including 5G and 6G), AI, cyber security technologies, genomics and genetic engineering, novel antibiotics, antivirals, and vaccines, low emission alternative fuels, and, lastly, autonomous vehicles, drones, swarming, and collaborative robotics.

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