By Leonie Mueck, Associate Editor, Physical Sciences for Nature, and Maria Maragkou, Associate Editor for Nature Materials
Quantum technology research is currently maturing towards commercialization, a development fuelled by major investments from governments and companies. The UK alone invested £270 million in the National Quantum Technologies Programme, an ambitious endeavour involving a national network of universities and companies, to explore the properties of quantum mechanics and how they can be harnessed for use in technology. It looks like we are not far from a second quantum revolution; exploiting the laws of quantum mechanics for unprecedented innovations may become reality in the not-so-distant future and it may soon be time for large-scale investment in quantum technology start-ups with global reach.
But for quantum technology start-ups to transform global business, we need one crucial ingredient: bold and brilliant quantum technology entrepreneurs.
Inspiring young quantum technology researchers to become founders
Nature is teaming up with Entrepreneur First and Innovate UK to help inspire and educate today’s young scientists in quantum physics to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs in quantum technology. We want to train young quantum physicists to come up with ideas for quantum technology start-ups with global reach and provide them with the opportunity to discuss those ideas with investors, experienced entrepreneurs and researchers from industry.
Entrepreneur First is one of Europe’s leading early-stage investors in deep technology. They regularly help to transform technical talent into start-ups with global reach through a six-month intensive programme, where participants are selected purely based on talent and skills, and get support to conceive ideas, build teams and found companies. In the past two years, EF has helped to create 40 start-ups, which attracted over US$50 million in funding from prestigious investors like Y Combinator, Index Ventures and Octopus Ventures.
Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board, and is the UK’s innovation agency. It funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth.
Do you have what it takes to start a quantum technology company?
If you are a young scientist in quantum physics, this is your chance to get a better understanding of what a successful quantum technology start-up looks like and to discuss your ideas with leading figures from industry and academia.
Advised by Nature and Entrepreneur First, a selection of PhD students and postdocs in quantum physics will work out what viable ideas for quantum technology start-ups look like. Over a period of two months we will guide you through the process of conceiving and evaluating these ideas in the light of the current innovation landscape and competition.
At a presentation day on 6 May 2016, participants will get the chance to put the best ideas to an initial test, presenting them to an invited panel of investors, technology transfer experts and experienced entrepreneurs. The goal of this presentation day is not for the ideas to attract immediate funding; rather, we aspire to stimulate a fruitful discussion of the prospects and challenges of quantum-technology commercialization by facilitating a meeting of bright young minds with more experienced entrepreneurs and investors.
And who knows, this learning and networking opportunity may eventually help to bring successful quantum technology companies to fruition.
The application deadline is 15 January 2016.
Feel free to contact us at InnovationForum@nature.com.