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UK chosen to drive global standardization around quantum technologies

BSI to helm first international committee as quantum moves from hypothetical to a range of commercial applications.

11 January 2024: The UK has been chosen to lead the first international quantum technology committee[1] focused on developing new best practice standards to respond with agility to new industry challenges and pioneer a quantum-enabled world bringing benefits across society.

The committee has been established by BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, in a sign that Britain is on track to become a quantum technology thought shaper. The creation of the new international committee takes the first step in delivering on ambitions set out in the UK Government’s National Quantum Strategy, for the UK to lead global standards for quantum by 2033.

Quantum technology promises revolutionary advances for industry and society. It capitalizes on the unique properties of quantum physics to achieve functionality and performance that cannot be achieved using classical physics[2]. The hope is that these technologies will one day make it possible to solve complex problems that are currently unsolvable with even the most powerful high-performance classical computer. This could allow us to reach entirely new frontiers in sensing, timing, imaging, and communications.

Quantum is gradually moving beyond hypothetical towards a range of promising commercial applications[3], including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, drug development, financial modelling, the discovery of electronic materials, weather forecasting and climate modelling. 

The Government’s National Quantum Strategy sets out a pressing need for a comprehensive, robust, and consistent suite of standards that cater to the global quantum marketplace. Industries including aviation, energy, finance and healthcare have started to apply quantum technologies.

With BSI at the helm and Korea as chair, the first committee of its kind, within the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) framework, plans to deliver a set of standards across quantum information technology, quantum communications, quantum metrology, quantum sources, detectors and imaging.

Scott Steedman, Director General, Standards, BSI said: “Quantum technologies can unlock solutions to address the greatest societal challenges. We are proud to announce the establishment of a joint ISO and IEC Technical Committee dedicated to building a solid foundation for collaboration and finding common ground to accelerate the development and adoption of quantum technology.

As the secretariat, BSI is looking forward to bringing our wealth of expertise in committee management to this, and we are committed to leading and driving the development of international standards to guide the evolution and integration of quantum technologies, fostering innovation for the benefit of industries and society globally”.

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said: “Quantum technology’s revolutionary speed and capabilities will power opportunities from drug discovery to financial market analysis. The UK is determined to drive the development of global standards to support the commercialisation and adoption of quantum technologies, unlocking untold advances in healthcare, green technology, and beyond.

"Being chosen to lead the first international committee on these standards is a resounding vote of confidence in the UK's £2.5 billion National Quantum Strategy.”

It follows the recent news of the Quantum Standards Network Pilot, a collaboration involving BSI, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), UKQuantum, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), NPL and the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC). It provides a focal point on standards for the UK industry, helping overcome barriers to realising the potential of quantum technologies in applications ranging from healthcare to finance, defence to communications.

[1] Joint Technical Committee – Quantum Technology (JTC-QT)

[2] Quantum technologies theme – UKRI