Commonwealth Bank of Australia has pledged $10 million in funding to support a local research effort to build the world’s first silicon-based quantum computer in Sydney.
The new five-year funding comes on a top of a $5 million donation by the bank in December last year to the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. It follows the Australian Government’s recent decision to invest $26 million in the endeavor as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda.
Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev said the potential benefits of quantum computing are transformational.
"Our investment has a long-term focus and is an example of potential collaboration and commercialisation," he says. "It enables us to support innovation in Australia as well as aligning ourselves with innovation that we believe will materially benefit our customers and shareholders over the next decade.”
The University is well advanced in its effort to build a quantum computer prototype in silicon, the material of choice in the semiconductor industry. Across the past two years the team has demonstrated the longest coherence time for qubits - the sub-atmoic particles that lend power to quantum machines - in the solid state as well as patented the process to scale the technology in silicon.
Commonwealth Bank chief information officer David Whiteing comments: “Quantum computing is set to increase the speed and power of computers beyond what we can currently imagine. This is still some time in the future, but the time for investment is now.”
CommBank is not alone in exploring the technology. Goldman Sachs., Royal Bank of Scotland, CME and Guggenheim Partners are all understood to be evaluating quantum computing.
CME is an investor in Canadian consulting firm 1QBit Information Technologies, which helps companies write software for quantum computers. 1QBit is working with a handful of financial institutions, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Andrew Fursman, co-founder of 1QBit, told Bloomberg.
"We’ve reached out to a number of large financial institutions and have a number of projects on the go," he said.
Separately, CommBank has also announced a $1.6M, five-year partnership with the University of New South Wales to develop a centre of expertise for cyber security education aimed at boosting the nation’s reserve of quality security engineering professionals. The funding will pay for a cyber security undergraduate curriculum, a security engineering lab, lecturer recruitment and support of PhD research.