Wits University announced on Tuesday that it secured R8 million in seed funding from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).
The investment from the DSI will be used during phase one of the South African Quantum Technology Initiative (SA QuTI).
SA QuTI is a national project that aims to make South Africa a competitive quantum technologies research environment and grow the local quantum technology industry.
Wits University, with its new Wits Quantum (WitsQ) initiative, is the official host of the SA QuTI and will control the funds.
“The objective is to move South Africa into a quantum future where government, industry and academia work together for the development and deployment of quantum technologies,” said WitsQ director Andrew Forbes.
The SA QuTI will be a group of five universities, with Wits acting as the leading contracting site and one of the main centres.
The Centre of High-Performance Computing will provide quantum computing infrastructure.
Funding will be used in the first phase to support quantum technology development initiatives and other smaller ventures.
The initiatives will occur at Wits University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the National Metrology Institute of South Africa.
SA QuTI looks to achieve critical mass in three primary focus areas of quantum technology research leadership across the country during the project’s second phase.
The focus areas are quantum communication, quantum computing, and quantum sensing, and each will entail one flagship project that serves to allow for faster uptake by commercial partners.
“The philosophy of SA QuTI is to side-step the competition,” Forbes said.
“South Africa cannot compete with the billions of Euros invested in quantum technology development in other countries.”
“In quantum computing, for instance, we will not be building a quantum computer but rather develop ‘quantum apps’, a faster and cost-effective way to make an impact that leverages on our capabilities in software development.”
WitsQ will receive a R2 million fund injection due to the investment, which Forbes indicates will be used “to grow the Wits quantum community by seeding small projects, and bringing new students into the fold.”