Quantum software alliance forms to keep Australia ahead

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

More than 100 quantum software experts from universities, the CSIRO and startups have formed an alliance to keep Australia at the forefront of the emerging industry, as Industry and Science minister Ed Husic pledged government support to develop and retain talent.

Launched at the University of Technology Sydney on Thursday night, the Australian Quantum Software Network (AQSN) pulls together expertise from 10 members across 30 academic groups at nine universities and two Australian-based quantum software startups, Q-CTRL and Eigensystems.

The new group forms in anticipation of the first national quantum strategy and a new federal government promising to support the sector with co-investments after falling investment chipped away at Australia’s early quantum research edge.

UTS Quantum researchers Dr Marika Kieferova and Professor Michael Bremner. Image: UTS/ CQC2T

“These are just the sort of Ventures we need to advance collaboration and excellence in science and industry nationally,” Industry and Science minister Ed Husic said.

“Assembling the network is an impressive achievement because it represents the world’s most extensive collection of quantum software and information theory expertise.”

The AQSN launches with over 110 members across 30 academic groups at nine universities and two Australian-based quantum software startups:

  • University of Technology Sydney
  • RMIT University, Melbourne
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Western Australia
  • Macquarie University, Sydney
  • University of Melbourne
  • Griffith University, Queensland
  • University of Queensland
  • University of New South Wales
  • Monash University, Melbourne
  • Venture capital-backed Quantum Startup, Q-CTRL
  • Quantum education startup, Eigensystems

External partners of the AQSN include Google’s quantum division, leading Finish and Japanese universities and three Australian quantum hardware companies:

  • Google Quantum AI
  • Okinawan Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan
  • Aalto University, Finland
  • Silicon Quantum Computing
  • Quantum Brilliance
  • Diraq

AQSN co-founder, UTS professor Michael Bremner said there is  “extraordinary” local quantum research and hardware talent but countries like China, Japan, the US and Germany had “leapfrogged” Australia with larger investment.

“Australian researchers have been at the forefront of building the theoretical and software foundations for quantum computing, and the AQSN is designed to accelerate this further by building the partnerships, both domestically and internationally, to keep Australia a major component of the global quantum industry far into the future.”

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley is currently leading the development of Australia’s first national quantum strategy. Last week, the Victorian government’s innovation fund invested $29 million into a US quantum company to help it establish a research centre in Melbourne, a move that surprised parts of the local sector.

The CSIRO last month upgraded its forecast for the economic potential of a quantum industry in Australia, predicting it could be a $4.6 billion industry by 2040, employing as many Australians as oil and gas does today.

On Thursday, Mr Husic said there was a “world of further opportunities” for the local quantum sector.

“We’ve got to appreciate the regard that Australian work in this field is held in globally. The Albanese government is determined that we continue to sharpen our edge and that we are recognised as a world leader on quantum technology,” he said.

“I want us to nurture local talent as well as attract overseas talent and capital to volt us and entrench us at the front of the quantum pack.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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