The race on quantum technologies is on in a big way. We’ve already seen big investments coming from both China and the United States, and now Europe is jumping in on the action too. Last year the European Commission announced its plans to invest 1 billion Euros ($1.1 billion) into quantum mechanic research. However, experts are concerned that partners are reluctant to invest.
A meeting was held by an advisory group steering the Quantum Technology Flagship project on 7 April at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in London. Here the group gave details of how the project will work which includes exploiting the behavior shown by quantum systems in order to develop new technologies such as ultra-accurate sensors and super-secure communication systems. But is it too little too late? Various other countries are already developing these technologies, including China and the U.S.
“Europe cannot afford to miss this train,” says Vladmir Buzek, a member of the steering group and physicist at the Research Center for Quantum Information of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. “The industry here is really waiting too long.” Launched just last year, this quantum project is a decade-long initiative that will work differently to previous efforts, operating with open calls throughout to ensure flexibility in funding the best researchers. The focus of the European Flagship will be on four distinct areas of quantum technologies: communication, sensing, computing, and simulation.
China is clearly in the lead currently when it comes to quantum communication. They hold the most patents globally in this field with the United States leading to patents involving quantum computers and ultrasensitive sensors. One of the big problems Europe face is the loss of the United Kingdom following the Brexit vote. The project is due to kick off the same year as the United Kingdom are due to exit the European Union (2019). But experts suggest the timing may actually be a good thing and are hopeful the United Kingdom can still participate in some form.
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