One key factor that limits the predictive power of molecular dynamics simulations is the accuracy and transferability of the input force field. Force fields are challenged by heterogeneous environments, where electronic responses give rise to biologically important forces such as many-body polarisation and dispersion. The importance of polarisation in the condensed phase was recognised early on, as described by Cochran in 1959 [Philosophical Magazine 4 (1959) 1082–1086] . Currently in molecular simulation, dispersion forces are treated at the two-body level and in the dipole limit, although the importance of three-body terms in the condensed phase was demonstrated by Barker in the 1980s [Phys. Rev. Lett. 57 (1986) 230–233] . One approach for treating both polarisation and dispersion on an equal basis is to coarse grain the electrons surrounding a molecular moiety to a single quantum harmonic oscillator (cf. Hirschfelder, Curtiss and Bird 1954 [The Molecular Theory of Gases and Liquids (1954)] ). The approach, when solved in strong coupling beyond the dipole limit, gives a description of long-range forces that includes two- and many-body terms to all orders. In the last decade, the tools necessary to implement the strong coupling limit have been developed, culminating in a transferable model of water with excellent predictive power across the phase diagram. Transferability arises since the environment automatically identifies the important long range interactions, rather than the modeller through a limited set of expressions. Here, we discuss the role of electronic coarse-graining in predictive multiscale materials modelling and describe the first implementation of the method in a general purpose molecular dynamics software: QDO_MD.