Government sees potential ‘quantum ecosystem’ in Australia

Good potential for quantum computing industry but STEM skills still a concern, industry says

By George Nott
Aug. 31, 2016


Quantum breakthroughs have also been embraced by a number of Australian companies such as Adelaide start-up QxBranch which develops custom software for quantum computers.

QuintessenceLabs, based in Canberra, provides a range of security products thatutilise the unique qualities of quantum states. Founder and CEO Dr Vikram Sharma considers his company very much part of the local ecosystem.

"Australia has a terrific base to support the development of a vibrant quantumecosystem," Sharma said.

"The research being undertaken at the CQC2T and at leading universities, including the Australian National University and University of Queensland, complemented by the translation of this research to market-relevant products by companies such as QuintessenceLabs, attracts world-class experts and offers significant opportunities to drive growth of the ecosystem."

Sharma agrees with Hunt's claim that quantum technology will create jobs, adding: "Quantum computing, quantum cybersecurity, and quantum sensing, practical applications of quantum mechanics, are already creating high value jobs in Australia."

Education

Quantum computing and building technology that utilizes quantum mechanics is no easy feat. Professor Michelle Simmons, director of the CQC2T, said that although she has no problem recruiting academics to join the centre, she does fear young people are not learning the fundamentals of computer science.

"We gave them computer where it's all done for you and you're a user. People have been using them for a long time without understanding how they work." she said.

"From transistors and internal circuits to 'how do you program a computer?' That skill we didn't train people on, which was tragic. We never went back and trained our children this process very well. It's not hard to do that."

Whiteing emphasised that the potential of quantum computing would only be fully realised if education in the area was supported too.

"This differentiated ecosystem must be combined with STEM-based initiatives to start to teach our children how to operate in this differentiated world, and provide opportunities within Australia," he said. "We need to do this for Australia, it's our play in the future super-connected, super-digitised world."

Bradlow agreed, saying: "The adoption of quantum computing will require skills in design, programming, operations and technology all of which will lead to job creation and industry ecosystems."

The government said it would invest $99 million in programs to boost digital literacy and STEM skills among young Australians as part of last year's Innovation and Science Agenda.

Source: Computerworld

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