NQCC announces the opening of the Quantum Software Lab at the University of Edinburgh

Announcing the opening of the Quantum Software Lab at the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the NQCC

19 April 2023

The National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) and the University of Edinburgh sign a memorandum of understanding to mark the opening of the new Quantum Software Lab at Edinburgh.

The Quantum Software Lab at Edinburgh, in partnership with the NQCC, is based in the School of Informatics and aims to overcome key challenges to accelerate the development of quantum computing and investigate new ways in which quantum computers can provide benefits, beyond the reach of traditional computers.

Under the leadership of the NQCC Chief Scientist, Professor Elham Kashefi, the Lab will conduct key research into the development of new quantum software, based on a core programme of research called the Quantum Advantage Pathfinder. Researchers from the Lab will work closely with industry partners to understand how quantum computers might help address their problems. The Lab will be able to offer expertise and education, in addition to undertaking pioneering research.

The Lab represents a core research capability in quantum software that can attract talent, help to train the next-generation workforce, provide scientific expertise, and build the capability to solve the key scientific challenges facing quantum computing.

Advancements in science may enable new applications, and new applications may inspire new research directions, the team says.

The Lab’s theoretical research pillars will develop the necessary tools for identifying and demonstrating any quantum advantage that one might obtain in a provable and reproducible way for specific practical applications.

The work of the Lab will be delivered in support of the NQCC’s vision of exploring the potential of quantum computing to address some of the most complex computational challenges, enabling the UK to realise its full benefits, as the technology is further developed.

Establishing the Lab aligns with the ambitions of the NQCC’s user engagement programme, SparQ, which seeks to grow the UK’s developer and user communities, by supporting potential users of quantum computing on their journey from awareness to advocacy.

About the Quantum Advantage Pathfinder (QAP) research programme 

The QAP is the core research programme for the Quantum Software Lab. The programme is a multi-disciplinary initiative involving physicists, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists. The NQCC Chief Scientist, together with the QAP research team, will create a framework for investigating practical ways of using quantum computing to solve problems beyond the reach of classical computing. The lab will collaborate with the government, industry, and other academics working on quantum to ensure solutions meet the needs of our economy and society. It also aims to help establish a trusted independent quantum software community as part of NQCC to empower all stakeholders in the adoption of quantum computing.

The QAP’s vision is to turn industry pain-points into relevant research problems. As academics carry out pioneering research expanding the pillars of research, including the mathematical foundations of quantum information, quantum algorithms and architectural design, they will use the wealth of new knowledge generated to help tackle real-world problems in the industry by carrying out feasibility studies. QAP will serve as the foundation for follow-up phases of the NQCC programme in quantum software and applications in the years to come. It will aid development of the first fully functional quantum computing cloud platforms in the UK. 

NQCC Director, Dr Michael Cuthbert said, “I am delighted that the NQCC is partnering with the University to establish the new Quantum Software Lab at Edinburgh. This joint endeavour will create a core research capability to address some of the key challenges in developing quantum software, paving the way towards practical applications of quantum computing that can have a real impact on the industry”.

Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “In the year the University of Edinburgh marks six decades at the forefront of computer science and artificial intelligence research, we are delighted to partner with the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC). That the NQCC’s first software lab has been established here at the University is hugely significant, and is indicative of the calibre of quantum researchers in our School of Informatics. Together, I hope we can play a significant role in the development and delivery of emerging quantum technologies.”

Download a pdf of the announcement here.

In the photo: (Left): Professor Iain Gordon, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. (Right): Dr Michael Cuthbert, Director, NQCC.