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January 23, 2023

UK government hiring quantum technologies chief

A six-figure salary is on offer for a person ready to deliver the government's as-yet unpublished quantum strategy.

By Ryan Morrison

The UK government is looking for someone to head a new office for quantum technologies, to oversee the introduction and administration of the long-awaited quantum computing strategy. The successful candidate for the post is expected to have experience in quantum computing and “will need to identify, build and realise the opportunities of the nascent quantum sector for the benefit of UK prosperity, security and global influence”.

Quantum computing has the potential to disrupt all industries. The UK government is working on a national strategy (Photo: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)
Quantum computing has the potential to disrupt all industries. The UK government is working on a national strategy. (Photo by Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)

The person taking on the role of head of office for quantum technologies will oversee a team drawn from across government with specialisms that allow them to identify, build and realise opportunities presented by the quantum sector in the UK. This will include overseeing all aspects of quantum technology for the government including quantum computing use in government, post-quantum security and investment in the technology.

The new team will be part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the role carries with it a salary of £73,000-£117,800, according to the job listing.

UK government prepares quantum strategy

Business leaders expect significant disruption from quantum computing over the next decade. An EY study published in June revealed that a third were at the strategic planning stage but despite awareness of disruption, detailed understanding of the potential impact remained low from individual businesses.

To ensure the UK can capitalise on its rapidly growing number of quantum computing scale-out companies and start-ups, the government is launching a new department to sit within BEIS. This department will oversee the deployment of the quantum strategy, though it is unclear when that strategy will be ready.

It was originally due for publication by the end of 2022, but disruption from changes in leadership in the Conservative Party and within individual government departments appears to have caused a delay. It isn’t clear when it will be published but the job advert suggests it will be before someone is appointed to the role.

New senior leader for quantum technologies

The chosen candidate for the new post “will lead on all aspects of quantum technologies” for the government, “working closely with many partners in government, academia and industry, and your personal drive, energy and credibility will be an essential element of the success of the strategy”.

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There are hints that there is some urgency to the recruitment process, requiring that the post holder already has, or is able to get as quickly as possible, the highest level of government clearance. Known as Developed Vetting, it is required for posts where the holder will have uncontrolled access to top secret assets and need access to top secret codeword material.

According to the job advert, the role will involve working with government, academia and industry to deliver against any objectives outlined in the yet-to-be-published quantum strategy, as well as monitoring performance against the strategy and regularly reappraising the approach taken as the technology evolves.

The post holder will have to build their own team to create and then deliver quantum policy for the government, create workstreams across R&D, skills, investment and regulation and monitor for technological and geopolitical developments.

They are also expected to have experience working on quantum technologies or a related area, be highly credible with business, researchers, investors and technology leaders and be able to engage in deep technical and strategic conversations on quantum computing. It isn’t just for a technically minded person though, as they’ll also need commercial and financial awareness and an ability to work with analysts and other experts to spot market trends and opportunities.

The closing date for applications is 19 February.

Read more: Can post-quantum encryption save the internet?

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