Quantum Australia 2022

March 16th, 2022

CSIRO was a gold sponsor of the first-ever Quantum Australia conference, held on 23-25 February and attended by more than 200 people in-person and 750 virtually. Government, academia, and industry came together to talk about quantum for the first time in Australia, with the vibe over the three days being extremely positive and collaborative. The general sentiment is that the quantum industry is on the cusp of real impact. CSIRO has a strong and growing investment and interest in quantum technologies, and so many staff participated in the event hailing from the Quantum Technologies FSP, Responsible Innovation FSP, Manufacturing BU, and Data 61 BU.

Photo from side of conference room showing stage and people seated at tables
Bernie Hobbs, award-winning science communicator and event Master of Ceremonies, leads the packed room through the program.

Topics at the conference were mainly high-level strategic and tactically focussed panels, punctuated by in-depth start-up journeys and tech viewpoints. The event kicked-off with a “State of the Nation” panel with Bronwyn Fox, closely followed by a Keynote from CSIRO-alumni and now Australia’s Chief Scientist Cathy Foley. Panel discussions included Quantum Sensing (chaired by Jim Rabeau), Quantum Networking, Responsible Quantum, and an array of topics on Quantum Computing Software and Hardware. There were also panels specifically discussing the outlook for a quantum industry, quantum start-ups and drivers for investment. Many of the industry’s big guns contributed, including IBM, Google, Microsoft, Q-CTRL, and Xanadu to name a few. A full day was dedicated at the end of the conference to helping early and mid-career professionals navigate the growing quantum careers landscape, including a panel on the optimistic (and challenging!) outlook on the future quantum workforce.

The Australian Financial Review article – Call for industry-led approach or risk quantum research edge – summarises the high-level discussions on Day 1 about how to get a sustainable quantum industry up and running in Australia.

One of the strong themes to come out of the event was the important role that Australia’s quantum postdocs will play in leading the charge to promote quantum opportunities. As Prof Sir Peter Knight, from UKRI National Quantum Technology Programme and Imperial College London said during the opening panel session, no one wants to hear about quantum from an old man with a grey beard. This is an exciting new frontier and should be communicated by our younger students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career researchers to help make it more accessible and relatable.

Photo of small group of people gathered at a conference booth and talking.
CSIRO’s booth at the Quantum Australia conference 2022, being visited by Australia’s Chief Scientist Cathy Foley.