Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Software enabled quantum computation

Apply for funding to develop the theoretical capabilities required to develop improved quantum computing architectures to ensure that the UK has the capabilities required to exploit these technologies effectively.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding.

This investment will form part of EPSRC’s contribution to the National Quantum Technologies Programme.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £750,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects must be 22 months in duration with a latest start date of 1 June 2023.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • eligible public sector research establishments
  • eligible research and technology organisations
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

You can apply if you are a resident in the UK and meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis)

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

Submissions to this funding opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

Scope

The algorithms that are expected to provide considerable speedups over classical methods require full-scale fault-tolerant quantum computing devices, which will be available in the long-term. Current quantum solutions for prototypes don’t provide convincing evidence for quantum speedups against current transistor-based computers.

These proof-of-concept implementations involve problem sizes which are trivial for classical solvers, and which do not shed light onto potential speedups for larger sized problems. While the hardware scales up, it is important to develop the algorithms to improve the performance of quantum computers.

EPSRC, in partnership with the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC), are looking to fund proposals that will develop these required advancements in algorithms, error correction, benchmarking, verification and theory. Research in the following areas is welcomed:

  • device independent algorithms
  • development of error correction codes which preserve resources and correct different kinds of errors
  • development of data embedding methods to reduce the time to solution
  • development of understanding on the potential classes of vulnerabilities in systems and the incorporation of quantum enabled components, for assurance purposes and to ’build security in’
  • development of theoretical understanding to solve open questions on quantum computing
  • development of methods for designing or redesigning quantum algorithms to reduce hardware requirements
  • develop verification and assurance methods for quantum computing

This is not an exhaustive list. You may propose other areas of novel research in relation to the development of novel:

  • quantum computing algorithms
  • error correction
  • benchmarking
  • verification
  • theory

The NQCC is enthusiastic about working with successful projects resulting from this opportunity. However, it is not a pre-requisite of the opportunity that proposals must include collaboration with NQCC as part of its delivery mechanisms. The nature of NQCC interaction with projects will be dependent on the details and structure of each successful proposal. NQCC will offer equal support to all successful projects.

Support from the NQCC may include:

  • access to NQCC’s quantum computing resources, including that provided through third party providers
  • access to NQCC’s simulation platform
  • collaboration with NQCC technical staff, including the NQCC chief scientist

This quantum computing mission will form part of the wider quantum technologies mission which aims to accelerate the UK’s strategic advantage and capabilities driving the diffusion and uptake of quantum technologies through a mission focus. In support of this mission, the NQCC will play a coordinating role across UKRI and the mission.

The quantum computing mission seeks to accelerate the growth in user adoption of quantum computing and associated essential skills and to uncover critical bottlenecks in understanding technology readiness and systems performance on the pathway to delivering fully fault tolerant error corrected quantum computing for the UK.

Projects submitted to this funding opportunity will be assessed together but funding decisions will be taken across the whole quantum computing mission portfolio at the point of funding to ensure a balanced portfolio which delivers an investment that can deliver across the desired quantum computing mission objectives and outputs as outlined in this document.

Funding available

Up to £6 million of EPSRC funding will be available for this opportunity. The full economic cost of your project can be up to £750,000. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Projects must be 22 months in duration with a latest start date of 1 June 2023.

Due to the nature of the mission, there will be additional requirements on reporting, monitoring and evaluation, and grant extensions. This will be reflected in the grant additional conditions, and those funded will need to comply with them. Further details are provided ion the ‘Additional information’ section.

Funding for this opportunity is subject to business case approval by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury.

Costs

Resources may be used for research expenses including:

  • UKRI funded research facilities. Please note that if you plan to use a major facility in your research, such as those funded centrally by EPSRC or a European facility, contact the facility before applying to EPSRC to check if your proposed research is feasible, and obtain a technical assessment if the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system marks it as required
  • travel
  • research technical support including research technical professionals, postdoctoral research assistants and fellow salaries
  • other standard expenses

Resources may also be used for activities that initiate, grow, and maintain collaborations with stakeholders (for example academia, business, government, third sector) such as:

  • regular travel
  • workshops
  • secondments
  • staff exchanges

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this opportunity. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘Directly Incurred – Other Costs’ heading.

EPSRC approach to equipment funding.

Responsible innovation

You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

International collaboration

Applicants planning to include international collaborators on their proposal should visit Trusted Research for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: Software Enabled Quantum Computation.

This will populate:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call/type/mode: Software Enabled Quantum Computation

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

Deadline

EPSRC must receive your application by 1 February 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

Your application must also include the following attachments.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface. EPSRC will not accept any other attachment types under this opportunity.

Read our advice on writing proposals for EPSRC funding.

Case for support

Up to 8 pages.

2 sides of A4:

  • track record highlighting the skills, expertise, and experience of the applicant and their team as relevant to the project. Consider non-academic partners or collaborators as part of the team
  • may include examples of prior successes and lessons learnt from previous projects

6 sides of A4 to include:

  • background
  • novelty of the proposed work, the research objectives and the proposed methodology to achieve those objectives
  • plans to maximise the impact of the proposed research
  • national importance
  • plans to manage the proposed work and its associated risks

Workplan

1 side of A4.

The work programme should be illustrated with a simple diagrammatic work plan, such as a programme evaluation and review technique (PERT) or Gantt chart.

Justification of resources

Up to 2 sides of A4.

This should be a 2-page narrative description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all of the resources you request.

See our guidance for writing the justification of resources document.

Project partner letter or letters of support

No page limit.

All project partner letters of support must be signed, dated (no more than 6 months before the call closing date) and on letterheaded paper. The letter or letters must include an outline of how the project partner involvement helps to enhance the quality of proposed multidisciplinary research.

Proposals setting out collaboration with NQCC should include a letters of support from NQCC describing the nature of the collaboration and supporting resource requirements.

CVs

Up to 2 sides of A4 each for named:

  • postdoctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time)
  • visiting researchers

Technical assessments

No page limit.

Required for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance.

Proposal cover letter

Up to 2 sides of A4.

This optional attachment should be no more than two sides of A4. It will only be seen internally by UKRI.

You can use this to present any other information you feel is relevant to your application.

Ethical information

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘ethical information’ section must be completed.

Guidance on completing ethical information on the Je-S form.

Read EPSRC’s guidance on ethical considerations.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

The assessment is a 2-stage process including:

  • postal peer review
  • panel meeting

Applications will be sent out for peer review. We aim to have a minimum of 3 usable reviews for each proposal

Proposals with unsupportive reviews will be rejected and will not be progressed to the panel.

If your proposal receives sufficient support at peer review, you will be given the opportunity to respond to peer reviewers’ comments within 14 days, which will be used to support the panel discussion.

Proposals receiving sufficient support will progress to be assessed by a panel that will score the proposals against the assessment criteria and rank them.

Applicants will be informed of outcomes in May 2023. Funded projects may end no later than 31 March 2025.

Assessment criteria

Our assessment criteria includes:

  • fit to opportunity (primary criterion)
  • quality (primary criterion)
  • national importance
  • applicant and partnerships
  • resources and management

Funding opportunity-specific criteria

Fit to opportunity (primary)

Alignment of research programme to aims and objectives of the funding opportunity, particularly:

  • the demonstration of novel research in relation to the development of quantum computing algorithms, error correction, benchmarking, verification and theory
Quality (primary)

The research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. For multidisciplinary proposals please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess
National importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges
  • contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
  • plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research
Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the applicant’s track record
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators and partners
Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation

Feedback

Feedback on full proposals will be provided in the form of reviewer comments, plus information on the panel provided on Grants on the Web shortly after the meeting.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process, you will be invited to nominate up to 3 potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC conflicts of interest policy.

Find out about our reviewer selection process.

Guidance for reviewers

If you are a reviewer for this opportunity, read our guidance for reviewers.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Quantum technologies team

Email: quantumtechnologies@epsrc.ukri.org

Include ‘quantum computing mission’ in the subject line.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Background

The UK Innovation Strategy sets out the government’s vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035. Its fourth pillar, ‘missions and technologies’, establishes a clear strategic aim to stimulate innovation to tackle major challenges faced by the UK and the world and to drive capability in key technologies.

The Innovation Strategy makes clear that these 2 critical elements of the UK innovation landscape are complementary. It outlines that new, emerging technologies can be pivotal in solving major challenges and opportunities, while in turn, missions can:

  • help to bring profile and significance to technological innovation
  • support diffusion of new technologies

This missions approach sets inspiring and stretching targets which focus the efforts of research, industry, and government stakeholders on complex problems with a coordinated approach for successful delivery.

This model will ensure that each Technology Mission to be supported has a clear direction and efforts are aligned across the private sector and research community. This is anticipated to create spill over-benefits including the attraction of significant private investment and the creation and retention of additional capacity and expertise within each technology area within the UK.

This funding opportunity is part of the quantum computing mission within the wider National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP).

The projects funded through the quantum computing mission will:

  • ensure UK leadership in this pioneering area of computing, backing ideas and people at scale, and helping to make the UK a science superpower
  • maintain sovereign or assured capabilities in the UK and enable the government to be an intelligent customer of future quantum computing services.
  • create a sustainable UK quantum industry to deliver commercially accessible computational quantum advantage by 2030
  • establish the UK as the worlds’ leading quantum ready nation, driving discovery across the economy that saves lives and increases productivity longer-term, whilst protecting national security

The mission is being delivered through 2 layers of activity:

Enabling foundational activity

This opportunity sits within the enabling foundational activity. It ensures the ecosystem can deliver meaningful transition to incorporate new application of these technologies, by funding foundational research that may lead to new scientific discoveries, or by establishing or maintaining strategic advantage through capability in science and technology.

Application centred challenges

This strand focuses on increasing commercialisation readiness of established discoveries or innovations, with a view to broadening their applications or increasing adoption.

This opportunity addresses the enabling foundational activity aspects of the quantum computing mission.

National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP)

The NQTP was established in 2014 to make the UK a global leader in the development and commercialisation of quantum technology, which is set to transform the global society and economy.

The NQTP strategic intent sets out the programme’s ambitions for the next 10 years, including the following overall aims:

  • stimulate market growth, unleash innovation and grow a thriving ecosystem
  • maintain the UK’s excellence in research and technology
  • build a resilient network of national assets and mutually beneficial international relationships
  • grow, attract, and retain talent

The strategic intent also further sets out the following specific objectives in relation to maintaining the UK’s excellence in research and technology:

  • continue to build on existing excellence to strengthen our global position in research, build the skills pipeline and open-up new opportunities for technological convergence, enabling work across disciplines to unlock innovation
  • as an enabling technology we will develop new quantum tools and opportunities for wider science applications.

You can download the NQTP Strategic Intent from NQTP resources.

EPSRC are a key partner within the NQTP and share the ambition to maintain the UK’s reputation as an excellent place to do research.

EPSRC forms an integral part of the international landscape in quantum technologies.

EPSRC funded a national network of 4 quantum technology hubs through a £120 million investment in phase 1 (2014 to 2019) and a £94 million investment in phase 2 (2019 to 2024) to harness the UK’s strengths in quantum science by turning this into strength in quantum technologies.

The hubs cultivate strong links with international partners and facilitate collaboration across the breadth of the quantum technology landscape.

EPSRC continues to deliver opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration through standard mode, lead agency opportunities and other strategic funding opportunities.

This focus has set the UK apart from the international competition, but the UK needs to continue moving forward as technological developments gather pace.

National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC)

The NQCC is a new research institution funded through UKRI, which is dedicated to accelerating the development of quantum computing by addressing the challenges of scalability.

Working with partners across industry, government and the research community, the NQCC will create the necessary research and development capabilities through coordination and delivery of a technical programme, alongside the commissioning and operation of new facilities.

The programme will deliver assured quantum computing capability, enabling the UK to remain internationally competitive.

The centre will be headquartered in a purpose-built facility at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory campus in Oxfordshire, which is due for completion in 2023.

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended consequences, questions, ethical dilemmas and, at times, unexpected social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Supporting documents

Grant additional conditions (PDF, 68KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 82KB)

This is the integrated website of the 7 research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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