UNSW’s flagship quantum computing project has received a second major injection of funds from Australia’s corporate sector, with Telstra matching a Commonwealth Bank pledge of $10 million.
Telstra announced an in-principle commitment of $10 million plus in-kind support over the next five years to the UNSW-based Australian Research Council Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, led by Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons.
It follows a similar $10 million pledge from the Commonwealth Bank earlier today after the federal government promised $26 million to the Centre as part of its $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda unveiled this week.
Telstra is ready and willing to play a role in building for the future. We must come together to plan for future generations through technological advancements. This partnership is a solid demonstration of this commitment.
Telstra chief executive officer Andrew Penn said the company was thrilled to be involved in such a dynamic, world-leading project.
“The potential of quantum computing is significant for countries across the globe, and we are excited to be part of this important initiative to build the world’s first silicon-based quantum computer in Sydney,” said Mr Penn.
“Telstra is ready and willing to play a role in building for the future. We must come together to plan for future generations through technological advancements. This partnership is a solid demonstration of this commitment.”
Professor Simmons, who leads the centre with more that 180 researchers, said the investment sent a “very powerful message about supporting internationally leading Australia research in areas of breakthrough technology”.
“It has been an amazing week for the silicon quantum computing teams at UNSW and the University of Melbourne. We are thrilled that Australian technology leaders Telstra are getting behind our world-leading research. It is recognition of the fantastic work that many researchers across these nodes have achieved over the past decade and we hope this investment will form the basis of new industries here in Australia,” Professor Simmons said.
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs thanked the government, Telstra and the CBA, hailing the collaboration as a powerful example of “what can happen when a culture of innovation is fostered from the top”.
“What a week for innovation, industry collaboration and UNSW’s world-leading quantum computing researchers,” said Professor Jacobs.
“The University applauds the vision and commitment of two of Australia's iconic corporates, the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra, in recognising the global significance and promise that quantum computing holds for the future.”
Quantum computing in silicon is an entirely new system at the atomic scale and Australia leads the world in single-atom engineering. In the long term, a single quantum computer has the potential to exceed the combined power of all the computers currently on Earth for certain high-value applications including data processing and drug development.
We are already at the forefront here, and now is the time to back our success, invest the money and see some results.
Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne told the National Press Club that Australian researchers were currently winning the global quantum computing race and the government intended to cement their position.
“We are already at the forefront here, and now is the time to back our success, invest the money and see some results,” said Mr Pyne.
Telstra’s chief said quantum computing represented an “important leap in innovation” and would open a world of new possibilities.
“We want to help those possibilities become a reality,” Mr Penn said.
“Through this investment, and in partnership with other corporate partners such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, we can work together to put Australia at the forefront of global innovation.”
As well as financial support Mr Penn said Telstra would offer the resources of its data science team, including the skills and knowledge of Telstra’s chief scientist Dr Hugh Bradlow.