Australian firms invited to submit quantum tech proposals

| January 29, 2018

In the wake of Professor Michelle Simmons being announced Australian of the Year for her groundbreaking work in quantum computing, the Government has announced new opportunities for Australian firms in the realm of defence.

One of the world’s top scientists, British born Professor Simmons has pioneered research into advanced computing techniques at the University of NSW’s Quantum Physics Department which could herald a new leap in computing performance.

In 2012, Professor Simmons and her team created the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, along with the world’s thinnest wire, and she now leads Australian efforts in what she calls the “space race of the computing era”.

Professor Simmons aims to build quantum computers which might solve problems in minutes that would otherwise take thousands of years. Such computing power could revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence and a host of other sectors.

New Defence Opportunities

The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, has announced a $6 million investment for industry, academia and government research agencies to contribute to the development of quantum technologies for Defence.

Minister Pyne says quantum technologies have tremendous potential to lead to profound benefits in many sectors, including healthcare, communications, and Defence.

“Quantum technologies could bring game changing advantages for Defence, in areas including timing, sensing and navigation capabilities, communications and quantum computing,” he said.

“This research aims to accelerate the exploitation of quantum technologies in a range of applications, such as highly accurate time-keeping and advanced Global Positioning System (GPS)-independent navigation.”

GPS-independent navigation is one area of interest to Defence. GPS cannot be used underwater or indoors and is vulnerable to being blocked either by illegal jamming devices or solar weather activity. Industries reliant on GPS could stand to benefit significantly from a more precise and robust alternative.

“Supported by the Next Generation Technologies Fund, the goal of Quantum Technologies research is to inform Defence of the potential benefits and practical limitations of quantum technologies through studies and demonstrator systems within three years.”

“I strongly encourage Australian industries and universities to contribute to this research with their innovative technologies and ideas.”

Quantum technology proposals are being sought in two categories:

1. Smaller proposals which deliver studies to inform Defence on the applications, feasibility and practical limitations of quantum technologies.

2. Larger proposals which address the development of concepts, algorithms and/or technology demonstrators which contribute to the development of Defence relevant capabilities.

Quantum Technologies is a key element of the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund which is designed to provide game changing capabilities for the Australian Defence Force of the future.

The call for applications can be found on the Defence Innovation website.