SQA PhD students Arjun Rao and Jacinta May with Dr Tomas Navickas at the University of Sydney [Sydney Quantum Academy]

Australia's first National Quantum Strategy, launched on 3 May 2023 by the Minister for Industry and Science, The Hon Ed Husic MP, and Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, recognises the enormous economic potential of quantum technologies and is welcomed by the Sydney Quantum Academy.

“Quantum is the next big technological revolution, likely to reap enormous benefits in the decades ahead — but it is also one of the most competitive frontiers of innovation,” said Prof Peter Turner, CEO of the Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA), a partnership between four Sydney universities. “This is why it is essential we not only continue to nurture the excellent research expertise we have, but continue to attract the best young minds from around Australia and overseas.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Federal and State governments in exploring measures to help attract global quantum talent and see Australia as a top destination for a thriving quantum career. This will necessarily include targeted initiatives and increased national collaboration,” said Prof Turner.

The Academy – a joint venture between Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney and backed by the NSW Government – provides scholarships, career development programs and fosters a thriving quantum research and start-up community.

Since 2019, SQA has supported over 150 PhD students in all areas of quantum science, recruiting nationally and internationally with progressive diversity targets. SQA offers graduate level financial support and SQA students are free to enrol in various quantum courses at any of the four partner universities in order to enhance their graduate experience.

Students also attend tailored student seminars, workshops and events aimed at developing leadership and transferable skills, from interview techniques to intellectual property awareness. SQA also facilitates internships for students in industry – in and around the quantum space – in order to maximise the reach of their skills and expertise into the wider economy.

All of this takes place in the context of SQA’s engagement activities with industry, government and the wider community. SQA’s annual Quantum Australia conference and careers fair, for example, has become a high profile annual international event.

“SQA is creating the future academics, engineers and business founders who will grow the quantum ecosystem in Australia,” said Prof Turner.

Australia has much to benefit from quantum technologies: in a 2022 analysis, CSIRO estimated that commercialising quantum technologies could create an Australian industry worth $2.2 billion and 8,700 jobs by 2030. This could reach nearly $6 billion and 19,400 jobs by 2045[1].

But the country is not alone in recognising the enormous economic potential of quantum technologies. According to a McKinsey & Co[2] analysis in 2022, public funding of quantum research is accelerating: China has invested US$15.3 billion to date, the European Union committed US$7.2 billion, the United States US1.9 billion and Japan US$1.8 billion. In March this year, the British government committed £2.5 billion over the next 10 years.

[2] Quantum Technology Monitor, McKinsey & Co, June 2022