The partnership between Oxford University and SEEQC promises to accelerate the use of quantum computing within pharmaceutical research in order to reduce the development time required for drug production worldwide.

Oxford University has joined a consortium led by the digital quantum computing company, SEEQC, to build and deliver a full-stack quantum computer for pharmaceutical drug development for Merck KGaA.

The consortium has been awarded a £6.85m grant, by Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to build a commercially scalable quantum computer designed to tackle prohibitively high costs within pharmaceutical drug development.

Matthew Hutchings, co-founder and chief product officer at SEEQC, shared: “Today, drug discovery is a labour and time-intensive iterative process with immense costs. Thanks to our world-leading partners and the invaluable commercial benchmarking by our end-customers at Merck, we have the opportunity to develop a quantum computing platform that can radically improve the efficiency of drug development.”

The partnership will accelerate the use of quantum computing within pharmaceutical research to dramatically reduce the time required for drug development on a global scale.

“We in academia need to do everything possible to help our industry colleagues accelerate the development of new medicines for patients,” Professor Chas Bountra, pro-vice chancellor for Innovation at Oxford University, commented. “I am immensely excited about this project – it is an opportunity for us to work with so many technology leaders and potentially transform the process of drug discovery. We must make it better, faster and cheaper.”

The news marks the first time a quantum computer has been integrated with a high-performance computer in the same network infrastructure. The quantum computer will require a redesigned refrigerator to support cooling at multiple levels, specifically for the cryogenic decoder.

Professor Charlotte Deane, who leads the Oxford Protein Informatics Group in the Department of Statistics and Professor Frank Von Delft, at the Centre for Medicines Discovery at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, will be leading from Oxford University.