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SBRI: Quantum Catalyst Fund, phase 1 and phase 2

Digital, AI & Machine Learning
General & Misc
Project Size:
£120,000 to £2.5 million

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and Innovate UK (IUK).

The aim of this competition is to explore the benefit of using quantum technologies in various areas of interest for the UK Government. Accelerating the adoption of quantum solutions by the public sector and for the public benefit.

This competition is divided in two contracted phases:

  • Phase 1 has a total budget of up to £2 million and will last 3 months
  • Phase 2 has a total budget of up to £13 million and will last up to 15 months

At the end of phase 1, the UK Government will assess the proposals developed, based on the end of phase 1 reports. Only successful projects will be invited to continue with a contract to phase 2.

In applying to this competition you are entering into a competitive process.

Any adoption and implementation of a solution from this competition would be subject to a separate, possibly competitive, procurement exercise. This competition does not cover the purchase of any solution.

This competition closes at 11am UK time on the date of the deadline.

Quantum Technologies have developed greatly in the last ten years, helped by support from the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. However, there is a partial understanding of the potential of quantum technologies within the UK Government and the public sector.

The Quantum Catalyst is aimed at helping innovators and the UK Government to come to a common understanding. Looking at how the potential of quantum technologies meets the specific needs of a certain sector.

The aim of this competition is to explore the benefit of using quantum technologies in various areas of interest for the UK Government. Accelerating the adoption of quantum solutions by the public sector and for the public benefit.

The UK Government has already identified some areas of interest, but this is largely as an indication of critical areas rather than a list of mandatory topics:

In phase 1 you must conduct a desk study with detailed planning for a specific application of quantum technologies in the public sector. You must align this with the UK Governments areas of interest. Phase 1 is an opportunity to engage with a government department or organisation on the challenge you propose to develop further in phase 2.

In a Phase 2 demonstrator, your project will be tested to assure and prove that the developed proposal is suitable and feasible in meeting a specific need or problem for the Government.

Your project must:

  • show how your solution is expected to have an advantage over classical technologies
  • be willing to work with the UK Government’s end-users to define the specifications and requirements of the technology

Contracts will be given to successful applicants.

At this stage contracts will be given for phase 1 only.

You must define your goals in your application and outline your plan for phase 2. This is part of the full commercial implementation in your phase 1 application.

You must demonstrate a credible and practical route to market, so your application must include a plan to commercialise your results.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following quantum technologies:

  • quantum sensing and imaging
  • quantum communications
  • quantum position, navigation and timing (PNT)
  • quantum components
  • quantum computing

Suggested challenge areas for the UK Government are:

  • underground and underwater survey
  • transport
  • navigation
  • earth observation
  • healthcare
  • environment
  • security
  • autonomous systems
  • telecommunications
  • emergency services and response
  • time and frequency dissemination
  • infrastructures
  • space
  • optimisation tasks

This list is not exhaustive.

Your proposal must address one or more challenge areas for the UK Government and present a credible and realistic solution, where quantum technologies can successfully be used.

Research categories

Phase 1: technical feasibility studies

This means planned research or critical investigation, by a desk study, with detailed planning, to gain new knowledge and skills for developing new products, processes or services.

In phase 1 you will work with the stakeholders to develop a detailed solution and produce a final report that will be assessed by the UK Government and form part of the decision for an invitation to phase 2. The outcome of phase 2 will be a prototype and demonstration of the solution.

Phase 2: prototype development and evaluation

This can include prototyping, demonstrating, piloting, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services in environments representative of real-life operating conditions. The primary objective is to make further technical improvements on products, processes or services that are not substantially set.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • do not make use of quantum technologies and their specific application in the public sector
  • do not use second generation quantum technologies, defined as those involving the generation and coherent control of quantum states, resulting in phenomena such as superposition or entanglement
  • directly duplicate other UK government or EU funded initiatives which you have been funded to deliver a technical feasibility study
  • do not cover areas of interest or challenges for the UK Government
  • are not original in their scope
  • do not address how any potentially negative outcomes, such as on the environment or society, would be managed

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