UK companies lead expansion in quantum computing
LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - More than 80% of large companies in Britain are scaling up their quantum computing capabilities, making the country a leader in deploying the nascent technology to solve complex problems, according to research by Accenture (ACN.N).
In the past couple of years the technology has started to move from the research realm to commercial applications as businesses seek to harness the potential exponential increase in computing power it offers.
Alphabet Inc's Google said in late-2019 it had used a quantum computer to solve in minutes a complex problem that would take supercomputers thousands of years to crack. Rivals including IBM Corp and Microsoft Corp are also developing the technology in their cloud businesses.
Rather than storing information in bits - or zeros and ones - quantum computing makes use of a property of sub-atomic particles in which they can exist simultaneously in different states, so a quantum bit can be one and zero at the same time.
They can then become 'entangled' - meaning they can influence each other's behaviour in an observable way - leading to exponential increases in computing power.
Britain has long been a leader in fundamental research in science and technology, but - with some notable exceptions - has struggled to harness the commercial opportunities that followed.
Maynard Williams, a managing director for Accenture Technology in the UK &Ireland, said COVID-19 had forced companies to adopt new technology faster and had increased their willingness to innovate.
Accenture's research showed British businesses were making a head start in experimenting with quantum computing.
Britain was outpacing the global average of 62% of large firms scaling quantum technology, according to the research, and was leading the United States, where the figure was 74%.
The majority of the companies expanding quantum computing in Britain - some 85% - said they would increase investment in the technology in the next three years.
Accenture did not quantify the scaling up or the investment plans.
"It's an exciting moment of focus around what these new technologies can do," Williams said, pointing to areas such as financial markets and supply chains as fertile ground for quantum computing.
"While the technology is still being tested to create new products and services, we expect quantum computing to bring huge advances in computing power and solve business problems that are too complex for classical computing systems."