UNSW to receive AU$10m from CommBank for quantum computing

The Commonwealth Bank has announced a AU$10 million investment to support the advancements in quantum computing coming out of the University of New South Wales.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia plans to weigh in on the quantum computing advancements emerging from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), pledging AU$10 million to support the university's researchers.

The Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology, which is headquartered at the university's Sydney campus, will receive the funding over five-years to further form the basis for developing a practical quantum computing system.

Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev said the potential benefits of quantum computing are transformational, and show that Australian innovation can be world-leading.

"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," he 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 unlocked the key to enabling quantum computer coding in silicon.

The university said that a quantum version of computer code can be written and manipulated using two quantum bits in a silicon microchip. According to UNSW, in achieving this breakthrough, the team has removed lingering doubts that such operations can be made reliably enough to allow powerful quantum computers to become a reality.

The university's latest breakthrough follows on from an announcement made in October, when a team of engineers built a quantum logic gate in silicon, which made calculations between two quantum bits (qubits) of information possible.

Andrew Dzurak, Scientia professor at the university said it was a landmark result not only for Australia but for the world, as until now it had not been possible to make two quantum bits "talk" to each other and create a logic gate using silicon.

"This result means that all of the fundamental building blocks that are required to make a full scale silicon processor chip are now in place," Dzurak said. "We're ready to move from this scientific research phase into the engineering stage and the manufacturing stage."

On Monday, the federal government allocated AU$26 million of its AU$500 million science funding to support the developments the university has made, and advancements it will make, in quantum computing.

The five-year cash injection forms part of the government's AU$1.1 billion commitment under its National Innovation and Science Agenda unveiled at the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra.

"We are pleased to provide further tangible support for the Australian government's National Innovation and Science Agenda," Narev said. "For innovation to thrive there must be collaboration between governments, research institutions, businesses, and entrepreneurs."

Christopher Pyne, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, has praised the bank's funding commitment, saying it reaffirms the government's investment.

"The Commonwealth Bank's investment confirms the outcomes that private and public money can deliver for the great good of our nation," Pyne said.

"Investment in our future through the National Innovation and Science Agenda is both important for today's jobs, exports, and profits -- but also ensuring that future generations can exploit these opportunities."

Pyne said the quantum computing centre has the capability of placing Australia on the global map of innovative technologies. He said that with this, the possibilities are endless.

"I look forward to more private and public partnerships in the future that will help to create jobs and grow the economy," Pyne said.

Tuesday's announcement comes off the back of a five-year AU$1.6 million partnership that the Commonwealth Bank and UNSW announced on Monday to develop a cybersecurity education centre to boost the number of security engineering professionals in the country.

The security engineering partnership will see the two companies build a cybersecurity centre that will consist of a new security engineering lab for hands-on teaching of security courses at the UNSW Kensington campus; provide support for new PhD researchers tackling internet security issues and for the tutoring of undergraduates; and offer funding to recruit lecturers and up to four CommBank Security Engineering Fellowships for graduates who wish to teach subjects at UNSW.

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