Competition brief: commercialisation of quantum technologies - feasibility studies

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
September event in York
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 encourage collaborative feasibility studies that will improve understanding of the technical or market feasibility of a product or service.

The scope of this competition allows for both technical and non-technical projects. We will accept projects that contain both technical and non-technical work packages. This includes projects that focus on understanding the business or market opportunity and challenges.

Technical projects

These projects will establish feasibility for devices that exploit one or more of the following phenomena:

  • entanglement
  • superposition

The scope also allows for component technologies. These will be important in the construction of future quantum systems or subsystems. They include but are not limited to:

  • vacuum systems
  • stabilised laser systems
  • integrated systems, including integrated lasers and vacuums
  • algorithms, control and interpretation software
  • single photon light sources and detectors

Non-technical projects

These projects will involve work to understand:

  • future markets
  • applications or business models
  • the route to future commercialisation
  • adoption of quantum technologies
  • the impact that quantum technologies might have on existing businesses or business models.

This may include projects that involve one or more of the following activities:

  • knowledge exchange, learning and understanding of quantum technologies and their potential applications
  • capture of user, performance or testing specifications (either to the applicant or customer organisation)
  • internal roadmapping activities

To allow for all levels of interest, we are running a collaborative R&D competition in parallel to this competition. This will allow for closer-to-market development of 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
  • has no proven significant commercial use or advantage

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 £6 million to fund feasibility studies in this competition.

We expect projects to last 6 months to 1 year. We expect them to range in size from total project costs of £50,000 to £400,000. We may consider projects outside this range but you must contact us to discuss this before you apply.

Your project must focus on technical feasibility. 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, navigation systems and other sensor systems
  • long-term applications (more than 20 years to market) - such as networked quantum information systems, quantum computers and quantum technologies for consumer applications

To ensure that these technologies develop into real products and services, we have set up 4 quantum hubs. The following universities lead these hubs:

  • Glasgow University (quantum enhanced imaging hub)
  • York University (hub for quantum communications technologies)
  • Birmingham University (quantum sensing and metrology hub)
  • Oxford University (quantum networked information technologies hub)

Companies can also get innovation funding to explore potential commercial applications for quantum technologies. They can use this to start to develop the technologies for use in these applications. The first round of innovation funding was the competition ‘Exploring the commercial applications of quantum technologies’. It supported 25 industry-led projects from 1 April 2015. This current competition is now offering a second round of funding.

We have designed this competition to continue the support for innovation. This will enable companies to turn quantum technologies into new products and services. It will help companies which are new to this sector discover the benefits of these new technologies. It can also help them establish feasibility of early-stage ideas, concepts or business models for future quantum products or services.

We will run competitions supporting innovation in the quantum technologies sector up until 2019. This will provide companies with continuous and coherent support. It will also help them to bring these new cutting- edge products to market.

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