Quantum leap: Feds make major tech investment

quantum

The federal government has invested in future quantum technologies with the release of the Blueprint and Action Plan for Critical Technologies, focusing on mining, defence and communications.

The Action Plan outlined nine technologies for initial focus to be protected and promoted in Australia’s national interest, including advanced materials and manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI), computing and communications, and quantum.

Following the Blueprint and Action Plan announcement, a statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the first step to actualising the plan.

“The Morrison government is investing $111 million to secure Australia’s quantum future, supporting the commercialisation, adoption and use of this new technology to create jobs, support Australian business and keep Australians safe,” the statement began.

Quantum technology works by the principles of quantum mechanics (the physics of sub-atomic particles) and the investment hopes to improve mining and manufacturing precision sensors, among other sectors.

Of the investment, $70 million will go towards the Quantum Commercialisation Hub to develop partnerships with likeminded countries and organisations.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said this would only heighten Australia’s standing as a force in quantum technologies.

“Australia is a world leader in quantum,” Price said.

“This is a fantastic technology that will improve our lives and transform our industries like finance, communications, energy, health, mining, manufacturing and agriculture.”

Once the technologies are developed and commercialised, a window will be opened for Australia to be part of a highly valued industry.

Minister for Digital Economy Jane Hume said it was important these kinds of investments were made as soon as possible to maximise the rewards later on.

“The global quantum industry is expected to be worth at least $86 billion by 2040, and I’m determined to see Australians secure their share of those jobs and economic activity,” Hume said.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive officer Tania Constable said the Australian mining industry was well placed to benefit from these kinds of technological advancements.

“The Australian government’s Blueprint and Action Plan for Critical Technologies announced today will help drive innovation, productivity and economic prosperity as well as creating more highly skilled jobs for Australians,” Constable said.

“Australia has a strong comparative advantage in mining and the supportive policy framework is important to ensure the industry remains strong and competitive.

Constable emphasised existing aptitude and willingness to take on new technologies in mining applications.

“Australian mining companies are leading adopters and innovators of many of the critical technologies identified as being in the national interest,” she said.

“These include autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, critical minerals extraction and processing, drones, electric batteries and machine learning.”

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