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From Babbage to the Quantum Computer: Which are the socio-cultural conditions for radical innovation in computing? (CIMR debates in Public Policy)

Venue: Online

Join the Centre for Innovation Management Research on Wednesday 15 March for our online lunchtime seminar: From Babbage to the Quantum Computer: Which are the socio-cultural conditions for radical innovation in computing? The online debate is part of the CIMR Debates and Workshops in Public Policy series.


  • Dr. Araceli Venegas-Gomez, Founder and CEO of QURECA 
  • Prof. Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Saverio Romeo, Associate Lecturer at CIMR and Founder Emerging Technology Observatory


The session will look at the future of computing through the lens of the past. The first part will cover the early days of computing through the pioneering work of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The talk will focus on how Babbage’s visionary ideas ultimately clashed with the social and political unpreparedness for a certain form of innovation in his time and how Babbage vigorously explored the possibility of collaboration with other European, especially Italian, scientists to bring his ideas to fruition. Valuable lessons can be learnt from the Babbage story. Those lessons will be used to look at today's evolution in computing. We are on the verge of a shift, from classical to completely new forms of computing. Among them, quantum computing is currently enjoying enormous momentum. But, we are still far from the full deployment of quantum computers. Can the lessons from Babbage help the computing community, policymakers and society at large overcome some of these difficulties? The session will not be about the technology, but about the socio-economic conditions that can enable and accommodate the kind of radical innovation that Babbage’s Analytical Engine could have been and the quantum computer could certainly become.


Dr. Araceli Venegas-Gomez, Founder and CEO of QURECA Ltd 

Dr. Araceli Venegas-Gomez spent several years working for Airbus in Germany and France as an aerospace engineer, before falling in love with quantum mechanics. She then decided to follow her passion for physics, and moved to Scotland to pursue a PhD in quantum simulation at the University of Strathclyde. Following discussions with the different quantum stakeholders she had over the last years, Araceli identified the need to bridge the gap between businesses and academia, as well as to raise the quantum awareness to the general public.

Continuing her work on outreach advocating quantum technologies, she was named the “quantum ambassador”, after winning the Optical Society Milton and Rosalind Chang Pivoting fellowship in 2019. Araceli founded her own company called QURECA (Quantum Resources and Careers) to create a link between the different stakeholders in the quantum community through a common language, and to generate global opportunities with quantum technologies. QURECA provides a range of professional services, business development, and the solution to the quantum workforce skills bottleneck: the first online platform for quantum training and resourcing, to support individuals and businesses to be part of the quantum revolution. 

Professor Hugh Lawson-Tancred, Birkbeck, University of London

After completing his first degree and Masters in classical philology, Hugh has divided his career between practical applications of natural language processing systems, in particular in the machine translation of complex legal documents, and theoretical study of the historical and current accommodation of technological innovation to ethical, cultural and societal requirements. He is the author of three translations and introductions to works of Aristotle and he has lectured extensively at Birkbeck and elsewhere on the ethics of data mining and AI, as well as publishing several papers on the ethical implications of biosurveillance in the context of the recent pandemic.

Saverio Romeo, Founder of the Emerging Technology Observatory

Saverio Romeo has more than 20 years career in emerging digital technologies and their impact on public and private organizations. He has done that as a technology consultant, as an innovation policy analyst, and covering advising roles for several start-ups. The core area of Saverio’s work is the convergence of emerging digital technologies such as the IoT, AI, immersive realities, and blockchain for digital transformation in public and private organizations.

He has run projects with different organizations such as Xsure (blockchain and identity), STL Partners (eUICC, IoT ecosystem, smart city), Augmented Reality Enterprise Alliance (convergence IoT-AR, 5G and AR), IntentHQ (IoT connectivity), WoW (wearable devices and enterprises), Technopolis Group (smart city, assisted living solutions), VAA (Industry 4.0), Club Demeter (5G in agriculture), IoT Analytics (IoT platforms, 5G, smart city, IoT security, blockchain and security) and IoTNow (LPWAN, 5G, IoT security). He has worked on smart city projects with cities such as Derry (Northern Ireland) and L’Aquila (Italy). Finally, he runs academic research (Industrial Internet, entrepreneurship in quantum technology) and deliver module for undergraduates and postgraduates’ students at Birkbeck on emerging digital technologies and digital transformation.



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