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Telstra pledges AU$10m to UNSW quantum computing

Hot on the heels of CommBank, Telstra has thrown AU$10 million into UNSW's silicon-based quantum computing development centre.

Telstra has announced plans to invest AU$10 million over five years and provide support to aid in the development of the world's first silicon-based quantum computer at the University of New South Wales' Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T).

UNSW's quantum computing development centre aims to develop a silicon quantum integrated circuit as the first step towards silicon quantum computing.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the investment reaffirms the telco's commitment to making innovation and technological advancement a priority in Australia.

"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," Penn said.

"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."

Penn added that in addition to the financial support to the CQC2T, Telstra will allocate resources from its own data science division.

"As well as a financial commitment, we will also contribute resources from our data scientist team, including the skills and knowledge of Telstra's chief scientist, Dr Hugh Bradlow. The possibilities of quantum computing are very real for us, and we want to help those possibilities become a reality. Quantum computing represents an important leap in innovation," 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."

Telstra's pledge comes off the back of CommBank's investment of AU$10 million into the UNSW quantum computing centre on Tuesday morning.

CommBank CEO Ian Narev said quantum computing could transform the digital economy and prove that Australia can house world-leading innovation.

"The University of New South Wales' quantum computer research team led by UNSW Scientia professor Michelle Simmons proves that world-leading innovation can happen, and is happening, in Australia," Narev said.

"Our investment has a long-term focus and is an example of potential collaboration and commercialisation. It enables us to support innovation in Australia as well as aligning ourselves with innovation that we believe will materially benefit our customers and shareholders over the next decade."

Last month, a team of engineers from UNSW said it had discovered the solution to enabling quantum computer coding within silicon. According to the team, quantum computer code can be written and manipulated through two quantum bits (qubits) inside a silicon microchip.

This enables a particle to instantly affect another at the opposite end of the universe through quantum entanglement.

"This effect is famous for puzzling some of the deepest thinkers in the field, including Albert Einstein, who called it 'spooky action at a distance'," said professor Andrea Morello from the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at UNSW.

"Einstein was sceptical about entanglement, because it appears to contradict the principles of 'locality', which means that objects cannot be instantly influenced from a distance."

The Australian government on Monday unveiled its National Innovation and Science Agenda, committing to provide AU$26 million over five years to the CQC2T's efforts into quantum computing research and development.

"This agenda will put science at the centre of the everyday; it will make science part of the national conversation in a way it never has been before," Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews said.

"By providing this funding certainty for these facilities, the government is allowing scientists and industry to engage in long-term planning without fear of recurring funding cliffs."

Telstra's funding commitment is subject to the finalisation of commercial terms.