Hannes Huebel, Senior Scientist in the Security & Communications Technologies unit, at the Austrian Institute of Technology, talks to Johanna Hamilton AMBCS about the need to bring three decades of quantum research out of the lab and into mainstream commercial applications.

In 2016, the European Union announced an ambitious research agenda for advancing developments in the newly emerged field of Quantum Technologies.

Titled The European Quantum Technologies Flagship, the initiative focuses on four main areas, or pillars:

  • Quantum computing: the ability to compute otherwise insoluble problems, as well as processing vast amounts of data, faster than classical computing, recognising patterns and training artificial intelligence systems, to solve world problems: e.g. to help diagnose and treat diseases or optimise energy use in smart cities.
  • Quantum simulation: the ability to build functioning complex systems to design new drugs, fertilisers and materials for real world applications before widespread roll out.
  • Quantum communication: the ability to create 100% secure, unhackable systems to converse as well as to protect sensitive financial and medical data sets. Impossible to intercept without detection.
  • Quantum metrology and sensing: the ability to create highly accurate sensors with applications in the consumer and medical sectors. Ideal for high-precision navigation and the Internet of Things.

The €1bn QT Flagship initiative, will span 10 years (started 2018) will support over 20 cutting edge projects and will bring together the collective knowledge of 5,000+ scientists across 17 EU member states. Together, the UK and their European neighbours will make a whole spectrum of quantum technology better, faster, more secure, scalable and saleable.