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2025: the year of quantum

On 07 June 2024 the United Nations (UN) announced that 2025 will be known as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology. This announcement not only commemorates the 100-year anniversary of quantum mechanics but showcases the growing importance of quantum technologies in the modern world. The UN’s announcement is just one of many announcements in recent years recognising the growing value of quantum technologies and how these new technologies will shape the coming decades.

For example, in 2023 the UK Government launched its National Quantum Strategy, providing long-term missions aimed at transforming the UK into a quantum technology powerhouse. The UK National Quantum Strategy sets out five missions for the UK quantum technology sector. These missions are as follows:

Mission one

By 2035 there will be accessible, UK-based quantum computers capable of running one trillion operations and supporting applications that provide benefits well in excess of classical supercomputers across key sectors of the economy.

Mission two

By 2035 the UK will have deployed the world’s most advanced quantum network at scale, pioneering the future quantum internet.

Mission three

By 2030 every NHS trust will benefit from quantum sensing-enabled solutions, helping those with chronic illness live healthier, longer lives through early diagnosis and treatment.

Mission four

By 2030 quantum navigation systems, including clocks, will be deployed on aircraft, providing next-generation accuracy for resilience that is independent of satellite signals.

Mission five

By 2030 mobile, networked quantum sensors will have unlocked new situational awareness capabilities, exploited across critical infrastructure in the transport, telecoms, energy, and defence sectors.

These missions are undoubtedly ambitious, however with appropriate investment and management it is entirely feasible for the UK quantum sector to achieve these missions in the proposed timescales.

Similar quantum strategies were recently announced by the Danish Government in 2023 and by NATO in 2024, and the USA has had a government-led quantum strategy for a number of years. With such international focus on this area, the future of quantum technology certainly looks bright.

Why obtain patent protection for quantum technologies

One key to achieving ambitious quantum technology aims will be to encourage collaboration between researchers from different organisations, without stifling investment and innovation in the sector. Patent protection can therefore be an invaluable tool for the quantum technology sector.

As proven in the pharmaceutical sector, patents encourage investment in technology by ensuring that organisations investing heavily in research and development can be fairly compensated for their investments. For example, the 20-year exclusive monopoly provided by patent protection can serve as a great incentive to further invest in quantum technology.

Similarly, the licensing opportunities that patent protection can allow ensure that not only are researchers fairly compensated for their investment, but that organisations are free to collaborate with one another. Filing a patent application also provides organisations with the freedom to discuss their technology with other entities without fear. As patents provide long-term protection for a particular invention, they are usually preferable to non-disclosure agreements.

What quantum technologies can be protected by patents?

Patent protection can be an invaluable tool to help organisations develop international quantum strategies. A patent can generally be obtained for inventions in all quantum technology areas, including quantum computing, quantum metrology and sensing, quantum communication and cryptography, and quantum-based navigation. However, the scope of any patent protection depends on the invention itself, and potentially upon the particular application.

For example, at the European Patent Office (EPO) inventions for quantum technologies must meet the requirements of patentability in relation to non-technical subject matter. As such, mathematical or software-based inventions for quantum technologies must generally be directed to a technical application, providing a technical effect. However, with the potential uses of quantum technology being seemingly limitless, there are many potential technical applications to which a patent application may be directed. As such, we can expect the number of patents granted for quantum technologies to continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.


The UN’s announcement that 2025 will be the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology just confirms what we already knew: large-scale applications of quantum technology are just around the corner.