Competition brief: commercialisation of quantum technologies - collaborative research and development

Updated 28 September 2016

1. Dates and deadlines

Competition opens 18 July 2016
Briefing and networking events for applicants 18 July 2016 in London
19 July 2016 in Cardiff
21 July 2016 in Glasgow
September event in Birmingham - details available soon
September event in York - details available soon
Briefing webinar for applicants 6 September
Registration deadline Noon on 28 September 2016
Application deadline Noon on 5 October 2016

2. The competition scope

The aim of this competition is to support ‘challenge-led’ collaborative R&D projects in quantum technologies. We are looking to fund projects that produce prototype devices and demonstrators. These must meet a clear commercial application or market need. It will help your application if one of the project partners is an end user or customer of the technology.

We are particularly looking for projects that align with the UK’s roadmap for quantum technologies. These themes include:

  • Quantum sensors, such as:
    • quantum oscillators and precision timing devices
    • quantum gravity sensors
    • electromagnetic sensors
    • accelerometers
  • quantum enhanced imaging, such as:
    • single photon imaging
    • ghost imaging
  • quantum information technologies such as quantum computers
  • quantum communications, such as:
    • quantum random number generators
    • quantum key distribution
  • Other quantum technology systems that exploit the quantum effects of superposition or entanglement

We may also consider technologies not on this list. But you must contact us to discuss this before you apply.

Your project may include work packages that either:

  • develop core component technologies within these systems
  • enable understanding of key market applications or customers

To allow for all levels of interest, we are running a feasibility studies competition in parallel with this competition. This will allow for earlier, more exploratory investigations and development into:

  • quantum technologies
  • developing components which make up quantum systems
  • market opportunities and uses for quantum technologies

3. Projects that we won’t fund

In this competition we are not funding fundamental research.

We define fundamental research as work that:

  • is experimental or theoretical
  • has not proven its effectiveness through previous experiments or prototypes

4. Find out if you are eligible to apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK based business
  • be a business of any size
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • work in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)

5. Funding and project details

We have allocated up to £13.5 million to fund collaborative R&D projects in this competition.

We expect projects to last up to 2 years. We expect total project costs to range in size from £500,000 to £2 million. We may consider projects outside this range but you must contact us to discuss this before you apply.

You may also apply for an extra 10% of your project costs. You must use this towards the cost of capital equipment. In this case, we would expect your total project costs to be no more than £2.2 million.

You can find out more in the guidance for applicants. We will provide a link to this here when the competition is open.

You can also attend a briefing event.

Your project must focus on industrial research. You could get:

  • up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are a small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

Academic partner costs can be no more than 50% of the total project costs.

6. How to apply

To apply:

We will not accept late submissions. Your application is confidential.

Read the general guidance for applicants before you apply. It will help your chances of submitting a successful application.

7. Background and further information

In December 2013, the UK government announced a £270 million work programme over 5 years. This was to establish the UK as a world leader in the commercialisation and exploitation of quantum technologies. This is a new and exciting £1 billion sector that Innovate UK has predicted will grow over the next decade.

Innovate UK and EPSRC published ‘A roadmap for quantum technologies in the UK’ in September 2015. It outlined recommendations for realising this new industry. One of the 5 action areas was ‘stimulating applications and market opportunities in the UK’. The roadmap identified promising applications for quantum technologies including:

  • short-term applications (up to 5 years
 to market) - such as components for quantum systems, compact atomic clocks, quantum-enhanced imaging for non-medical applications and quantum communication systems
  • medium-term applications (5 to 10 years to market) - such as medical imaging and other sensing technologies
  • long-term applications (20 years or more to market) - such as networked quantum information systems, quantum computers and quantum technologies for consumer applications

To enable these applications to develop, the roadmap recommends that the UK programme supports 3 types of activity:

  • providing public funding for demonstrators
  • encouraging effective communication and co-working
  • identifying early adopters for new technology

The roadmap also recommends that demonstrators should:

encourage better understanding of the potential properties of quantum devices and highlight and overcome the remaining technical challenges in the way of potential market applications.

We have designed this competition to meet these recommendations. It will support consortia to develop demonstrators of quantum technologies. It will also help them meet the expectations of eventual users and customers.

If you want help to find a project partner, contact the Knowledge Transfer Network

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at