Integrating responsible innovation into the commercialisation of quantum technologies

November 24th, 2023

Australia’s first National Quantum Strategy is underway - how can we ensure it fulfils its commitment to responsible innovation?

Project Duration March 2022 — February 2026 

Four people dressed in smart business attire stand on a plush blue carpet

Gabi Skoff with colleagues from the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies present their work on the Quantum Meta-Ethics project, part of the DFAT-funded Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership

The Challenge

The responsible development, deployment, and governance of novel technologies is increasingly a topic of discussion in boardrooms and business meetings. Approaches to this challenge come in many different forms, including responsible innovation (RI). RI is an interactive process, which aims to surface and then pull social and ethical considerations into innovation systems. It does so by involving a diversity of stakeholders in the earliest stages of research and development.

While RI has been applied in a broad range of scientific and technological research settings, the specific ways in which RI is discussed and practiced by actors in ecosystems where novel technologies are commercialised remains strikingly limited. Emerging technology ecosystems are considered a driver of economic growth in society. As a result, their development has become a policy issue for national and regional innovation strategy.

Quantum technologies – including computing, sensing, and communication – are currently transitioning from academia to industry. In Australia, quantum presents a $6 billion opportunity. The commercialisation of quantum technology is positioned as a source of diverse entrepreneurial opportunities, around which multiple stakeholders and resources are brought together to develop valuable products or services. As Australia’s first National Quantum Strategy is put into action, there is a need to develop and apply knowledge about what responsible innovation means in the commercial context and how responsible practices do – or do not but could – characterise Australia’s quantum entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Our Response

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation and Quantum Future Science Platforms are supporting a PhD research project on responsible innovation and quantum technologies with a top-up scholarship. The PhD research was developed and is being undertaken by Gabi Skoff at The University of Sydney’s Business School under the supervision of Associate Professor Stefan Meisiek, Professor Steven Maguire, and Dr Jarryd Daymond.

Using a variety of data including media, interviews, and documents produced by a range of ecosystem actors, Gabi’s research will analyse the role of hype in the emergence of an Australian quantum entrepreneurial ecosystem, with a particular focus on how it’s shaped by concepts of risk and responsibility. This project will also review existing literature on the application of responsible innovation in an industry setting to understand how prior studies propose responsible innovation should be integrated into the activities of organisations in emerging technology ecosystems. Finally, the study will address the question of how responsible innovation is operationalised through policy practices in Australia’s own developing quantum ecosystem

Impact

This project aims to generate new knowledge and insights about how, and to what extent, responsible innovation practices are (or could be) embedded into commercialisation efforts for emerging technologies.

Given the importance of Australia’s emerging quantum entrepreneurial ecosystem to a wide range of stakeholders, the practical aim of this research is to develop an understanding of how responsible innovation shapes the quantum ecosystem through policy, discourse and action.

Team

Gabriella Skoff; Associate Professor Stefan Meisiek, Professor Steven Maguire; Dr Jarryd Daymond

Find out more

Meet Gabi Skoff: Championing a holistic approach to the responsible innovation of quantum technologies – Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform (csiro.au)

Quantum: what you need to know (Sydney Business Insights)