HomeTechSouthampton cold atom clock startup secures Innovate UK contract

Southampton cold atom clock startup secures Innovate UK contract

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Quantum startup Aquark Technologies has secured a £3.4m contract from Innovate UK to develop a high-performance cold atom clock.

The Southampton-based startup is working towards what it says will be the UK’s first commercially available cold atom clock.

Cold atom clocks are tools to precisely measure time by cooling atoms to near absolute zero. Aquark said because of the stability of atomic frequencies, its clock will be able to operate for millions of years without losing a second.

The funding for Aquark came via Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative competition.

“The award from Innovate UK allows us to transition the AQlock to commercial readiness, including extensive lab and live-environment testing,” said Aquark CEO Andrei Dragomir.

“Delivery of the AQlock will open up quantum-enabled systems for global positioning, navigation, and timing, and simultaneously establish a UK-prioritised supply chain, providing the opportunity for wholesale transition away from global navigation satellite system dependency and replacing vulnerable systems with UK quantum technology.”

The government has named quantum computing as a critical technology for the UK to lead in and has been handing out millions in funding to startups and researchers in support of this goal.

In last year’s Spring Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a £2.5bn funding package for the UK quantum industry. The government has been deploying these funds via Innovate UK.

Earlier this week, fellow British quantum startup Riverlane received a £2.1m European Innovation Council grant to develop a quantum error correction decoder. The Cambridge-based firm was eligible for the funding due to the UK rejoining Horizon Europe last year.

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