• Research
  • July 7, 2022

Australia’s Quantum Computing Leap

Australia is at the forefront of research and development into quantum computing, but the importance of quantum computing and how it will improve our lives is still not widely understood.

At Morgan Stanley’s 4th annual Australia Summit, we heard from a distinguished panel on how Australia is cultivating and supporting quantum researchers to commercialise and drive adoption, and how investors can approach the sector. This session was moderated by Jim Rabeau, Director at Quantum Technologies, CSIRO and our panel included:

  • Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist.
  • Dr Marcus Doherty, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Quantum Brilliance, an innovator in room temperature quantum hardware.
  • Bill Bartee, Managing Partner, Main Sequence Ventures, an innovation fund established by CSIRO

Computing, redefined

In a time when most people carry the equivalent of a mini-supercomputer in their pocket, it may seem hard to believe that the world needs more computing power. However, the classical computer faces limits in how it solves problems that go beyond speed and power. Data, problems, and solutions are represented, processed and stored in bytes that are in one of two states—either 0 or 1.

Enter quantum computing, where information can be represented as quantum bits, that can be 0, 1 or something in-between, allowing for far more complex calculations. In the classical computing world, every bit of data is either true or false. In the quantum computing world, quantum bits cover a range of statistical possibilities between—and including—the two.

Quantum computers exploit this representational richness in data to run complex simulations with a far broader range of possibilities at speeds that would be simply unthinkable for even the most advanced classical computers. It’s the difference between mere calculus and the ability to sort and optimise vast flows of real-time data essential to simulating molecular biological processes or powering artificial intelligence.

The impact to industry

Quantum computing’s advanced abilities could open the door to dramatic innovation in a variety of industries. Chemical manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, for example, could simulate the chain of chemical reactions needed to design new and far more complex compounds and materials.

Other industries could also see extensive applications of this capability. Quantum computing in Meteorology would revolutionise the way weather is predicted. Oil and gas companies now rely heavily on computing power to optimise oil extraction processes. Quantum computers could supercharge that effort, helping companies instantaneously and comprehensively monitor the state of their equipment. Financial services firms could benefit from advanced portfolio construction and collateral optimisation. Aerospace and defence could use quantum computing to sort and analyse large data sets from satellites or create ultra-durable materials for aircrafts.

And just as past industrial revolutions created many of the sectors that form the core of today’s global economy, quantum computing could give rise to new companies and sectors not yet imagined.

Investment in the Australian sector

Australia is at the forefront of research and development into quantum computing and is a leading contender to create the first silicon quantum computer. In addition, a growing number of researchers are stepping away from universities and venturing into start-up businesses. Marcus Doherty, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Quantum Brilliance, is one of them. He notes that Australia’s early and sustained government investment has resulted in a concentration of talent in Australia and the emergence of genuinely exciting start-ups across multiple layers of the quantum computing industry.

As the race continues to create the first silicon quantum computer, Dr Cathy Foley believes there is a real opportunity for Australia to not just be a quantum computing hub but also a global leader in the adjacent industries, including cryogenics, electronics and mineral processing. To do this, Dr Foley highlighted the importance of retaining the top scientific talent here in Australia, reshoring the semi-conductor supply chain process and the need for continued investment in not just quantum computing but also the surrounding industries.

Bill Bartee, Managing Partner at Main Sequence Ventures, an innovation fund established by CSIRO, shared his insights for potential quantum computing investors:

  • Educate yourself about the emerging technology. There is an array of publicly available material but focusing on scientific journals and pieces published by the CSIRO will enable you to gain a better understanding.
  • Look for the emerging start-ups receiving funding from venture capital and the small number of companies listed on the Nasdaq.
  • Quantum computing is an emerging technology, so investment is a long-term game.

For more from Morgan Stanley’s Australia Summit, speak to your Morgan Stanley financial adviser or representative.