Microsoft today cemented its long-standing quantum computing research relationship with the University of Sydney, with the signing of a multi-year investment deal understood to be in the multiple millions.\nThe Australian arm of Microsoft\u2019s global Station Q quantum computing laboratory network will be housed within the university\u2019s $150 million Sydney Nanoscience Hub, which opened last year.\n \nMicrosoft will be providing scientific equipment to the lab, as well as funds for additional staff and specific research projects. The exact value of the investment has not been disclosed.\nLeading the lab is its scientific director Professor David Reilly, who, after working as a consultant to Microsoft for a number of years, joined the company full time in October last year as one of fourheavyweight academic hires.\n\u201cThe deep partnership between Microsoft and the University of Sydney will allow us to help build a rich and robust local quantum economy by attracting more skilled people, investing in new equipment and research, and accelerate progress in quantum computing \u2013 a technology that we believe will disrupt the way we live, reshaping national and global security and revolutionising medicine, communications and transport,\u201d Reilly said today. \n \nDouble-down\n \nMicrosoft is \u2018doubling-down\u2019 on its quantum computing effort, it says, ramping up research across the eight centres that form Station Q.\n \nThe company is pursuing a topological approach to forming quantum bits \u2013 qubits \u2013 using quasiparticles called non-abellian anyons.\n \nNo caption\nAccording to Microsoft, topological qubits are better able to withstand heat and electrical noise, which allows them to remain in a stable quantum state for longer \u2013 one of the key challenges in producing a useable quantum computer.\nLast year the company said it had reached an \u2018inflection point\u2019 in its research (despite researcher\u2019s admitting they were only \u2018pretty sure\u2019 non-abellian anyons exist), and would now be switching focus from theory to engineering.\n \n\u201cWe\u2019ve reached a point where we can move from mathematical modelling and theory to applied engineering for significant scale-up,\u201d Professor Reilly added.\n \nAs part of the ramp-up, in April, Microsoft said it was seeking to double the size of its Sydney Station Q quantum with 20 new hires.\n \nQuantum computing had become an engineering race, Doug Carmean, partner architect at the Station Q facility at Microsoft\u2019s Redmond headquarters, told CIO Australia.\n \nUniversity of Sydney\u2019s Nanoscience Hub, which houses Microsoft's Sydney Station Q\n\u201cWe\u2019re looking for something that can eventually turn into full scale computer systems. The more that we\u2019ve worked on and the more we understand the theory, the more confidence we get,\u201d he said.\n \n\u201cThat\u2019s why it\u2019s turned into this engineering race. You see Microsoft spending a significant investment on it. You see Google and IBM, you see governments like China investing. The EU has this one billion euro grand challenge. So somebody\u2019s going to crack it. Somebody\u2019s going to make it happen and I think it\u2019s going to be us.\u201d\nIP principles\n \nThe University of Sydney said it had agreed \u2018principles\u2019 around the intellectual property research may generate.\n \nMicrosoft has been working with the university on quantum computing research for around five years. Today\u2019s investment will not affect what papers the university\u2019s researchers are able to publish.\n \n\u201cA lot of good science is not done because universities and their industrial partners have theoretical conversations about how the pie might be split before the pie is even baked or before anyone knows what a pie is,\u201d said University of Sydney vice-chancellor, Dr Michael Spence.\n \n\u201cOne of the things that has been creative about this relationship is we\u2019ve agreed principles for the ways in which the IP should work... What\u2019s been unusual for a process in which quite so many lawyers have been involved, is we\u2019ve been keen to let science set the agenda. And not let those theoretical legal questions set the agenda, as has happened in so many industry-university partnerships that either fail or don\u2019t get off the ground because of that.\u201d\n \nMicrosoft added that the partnership supports "both open, discovery-led research and the development of a pathway to build and optimise commercial devices."\nNo caption\nToday\u2019s deal follows yesterday's announcement thatthe New South Wales government was creating a $26 million fund to support the commercialisation of the technology.\nPart of that fund will be directed towards a rival effort to Microsoft\u2019s Station Q;the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), based at UNSW, where researchers from a number of Australian universities are pursuing asilicon-basedapproach to building qubits.\n \n\u201cIt\u2019s widely recognised globally that NSW is well and truly punching above its weight in the field of quantum computing, and the State Government is keen to ensure our researchers maintain their world-leading position in what\u2019s being dubbed the new \u2018space race\u2019 - the race to build the world\u2019s first quantum computer,\u201d NSW Deputy Premier and minister for skills and small business John Barilaro said while announcing the fund.