Quantum Week Scotland attracts over 500 enthusiasts

[29/04/2024] Quantum Week Scotland, hosted by the Quantum Software Lab, took place in Edinburgh between the 15th and 19th of April and attracted more than 500 academics, researchers, students, globally leading quantum computing companies and government representatives who explored scientific advancements, innovation, and impact in the field of quantum computing.

It was a first-of-its-kind quantum festival comprising three major events: Quantum Computing Academic Industry Meeting Day (AIMDay®), Quantum Computing Theory in Practice (QCTiP) conference and the Quantum Software Lab’s first-anniversary celebration.

The Quantum Week marked a significant milestone in the evolution of the Quantum Software Lab at the University of Edinburgh. We have orchestrated a unique triad: AIMDay®, for industry engagement, QCTiP for academic discourse, and QSL Anniversary to honour our year-long journey of bridging sectors. Since our inception exactly one year ago, QSL has transcended its initial remit, scaling up to over 50 dedicated quantum researchers and broadening its disciplinary horizons to include not just Informatics and EPCC, but also Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering, all unified towards application-centric development. This past week was not just a celebration of our first anniversary showcasing all our achievements, but a testament to the collaborative power of NQCC and QSL, working in tandem to transform fundamental scientific discoveries into tangible technological solutions. Over the last year, we established a virtuous cycle, where the progression of the NQCC test-bed and the SparQ program not only showcased our advancements but also propelled new research trajectories within QSL itself. We have cemented the foundation of an idea factory, where intellectual rigour fuels business growth and a cadre of elite quantum researchers are building, brick by brick, the future of secure, fast, networked quantum data machines dedicated to the public good.

AIMDay® - industry engagement

AIMDay®, Quantum Computing Applications took place on Monday and featured 14 challenge-led workshops aimed at matchmaking industry pain points with scientific expertise to identify tangible ways of collaborating. Challenges ranged from understanding algorithms that may benefit from quantum simulation (Nvidia) to exploring support mechanisms for strengthening the quantum ecosystem (Digital Catapult).

AIMDay® was delivered in collaboration with QCA Cluster, a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh, and Scottish Enterprise / Scottish Development International.

QCTiP for academic discourse

Quantum Computing Theory in Practice (QCTiP) Conference (Tuesday-Thursday) brought together 300+ participants from 60+ universities and 45+ companies with support from National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), Riverlane, Phasecraft, Quandela, Entropica Labs, Institute of Physics, Global Quantum Intelligence (GQI), UKQuantum, and Quantum Computing & Simulation Hub.

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Thank you to the Quantum Software Lab and QCA cluster for a phenomenal week in Edinburgh. As co-founders of QCTiP and 2023 hosts at the University of Cambridge, we’re thrilled to see the event grow and expand as part of the wider Quantum Week Scotland.  Bringing together academic, industry, government and non-governmental experts in one place is a model that really works.

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Mr Richard Lochhead MSP, the Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism, and Trade at the Scottish Government gave a keynote talk. 32 scientific talks were delivered on topics ranging from big data applications on small quantum computers to efficiently trainable density quantum neural networks. 95 posters were presented across various poster sessions.

The National Quantum Computing Centre was established in 2020 to create a collaborative environment for quantum computing in the UK. Our partnership with the Quantum Software Lab brings additional academic expertise and rigour investigating emerging quantum algorithms and industry-relevant use cases, and to understand what we can we achieve with today's modest-scale hardware. At the NQCC, we are engaging directly with end-users to build an awareness and understanding of quantum computing across different industry sectors, and our colleagues here at QSL work with the user community to explore the domain space, identify algorithms, examine industry pain points, and choose the most appropriate hardware resources. Our collaboration is aimed at driving user adoption and maximising the benefit of quantum computing for industry and the society. As we celebrate the first anniversary of our association, it was a great privilege to be a part of the week-long celebration of the achievements within the quantum community.   

QSL 1st Anniversary

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The Quantum Software Lab's first anniversary celebrations took place on Friday. The Anniversary event, with involvement from all team members, showcased achievements over the past year. With over 50 researchers, and engagement activities with over 80 industrial partners, QSL is now the largest quantum software team in the UK. As a founding member of the QCS technology hub and the QCA cluster, it has helped to build the quantum community in Scotland and the UK.

It is very gratifying to see the progress University of Edinburgh’s Quantum Software Lab has made in its first year since its launch. It is great to see such an excellent array of researchers brought together and the work they are doing. The collaboration between the QSL and NQCC teams is excellent, especially on the testbeds, which is a particular strength of the UK programme. It shows the strength that the alliance between academia, industry and government which sits at the heart of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme continues to bring, and bodes well for the success of the UK’s National Quantum Strategy. We have come a long way since the start of the NQTP in 2014, with much to celebrate in this, its 10th year, and further success ahead. I look forward to seeing the QSL go on from strength to strength as part of this shared UK endeavour.

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Scientific advancements in quantum computing include application discovery, benchmarking, verification & testing, error correction, post-quantum cryptography, quantum machine learning, algorithms, and resource estimation.

The Lab’s strategy is to act as a bridge between industry and academia. Researchers tackle real-world problems brought up by industry but also design innovative solutions that can be easily adapted for specific industry challenges. As an academic centre, it promotes open-source knowledge for stakeholders in academia, industry, and government, potential end users and quantum hardware and software specialists.

Quantum technology has come a long way since the UK started its programme in 2014, and especially in quantum computation, with early work on proposed architectures and realisations coming much closer to reality in the decade that followed. The Quantum Software Lab was founded just a year ago at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the UK Research Councils and the National Quantum Computing Centre.  QSL is focussed on accelerating work in quantum computing, working on practical applications, benchmarking and connections to industry, and has built a remarkably diverse team from a broad range of disciplines. So, it was entirely appropriate that the quantum computing community came together on QSL’s one-year anniversary to celebrate the wonderful achievements and to highlight the vision for the future in a week-long celebration. The event brought together leading researchers from all over the world: a remarkable and vibrant demonstration in Edinburgh of what has become a flagship of activity in this wonderful field.

The announcement of a new Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantum Informatics led by the Quantum Software Lab with partner universities; Oxford, UCL, Strathclyde, and Heriot-Watt was a key highlight this year. The CDT is expected to train 80+ PhD students starting in September 2025.

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