Quantum technologies are seen as the market of the future. Governments around the world are pouring vast sums into research and development. An overview of planned and ongoing programs.
When it launched its Quantum Flagship Initiative in the fall of 2018, the EU Commission laid down a marker in quantum research. The commission committed at least €1 billion to the 10-year program—which is financing the work of more than 5,000 researchers across Europe in the process. The Quantum Community Network in which representatives of all EU members work, serves as an interface for ongoing national initiatives.
On the national level, the German government is providing €650 million in financial support to help quantum technologies make the leap from fundamental research to marketing. The funding will be provided until 2022, a reflection of the current legislative period of the German Parliament. Germany has identified four focal areas for support: quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum-based measuring technologies and sensors as well as the refinement of fundamental technologies for quantum systems. An additional €2 billion is to come from the €130 billion plan that the government passed at the beginning of June 2020 to offset the economic impact of the corona crisis.
In February 2020, the Dutch government launched a support program of its own that totals €23.5 million. The program will run for five years. It is designed to give a boost to private investments. The goal: to invest €34 million annually in quantum research. In the past five years, the Netherlands has invested about €350 million in quantum technology. Great Britain is supporting the future technology in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. In June 2020, it announced a new package of funding worth €78 million (£70 million). In the first phase of the program, €300 million (£270 million) flowed into the research since 2013. France is also in the process of creating a comprehensive funding program. An ambitious strategy worth up to €1.4 billion in funding for the next five years is under consideration. As part of this plan, a fund to encourage quantum-technology startups is to be created. About €300 million to €500 million is to be earmarked for this program. Other European countries have introduced their own programs as well. And this is only a small fraction of national funding initiatives.
In addition to Europe, the U.S. and Chinese governments are investing heavily in efforts to develop know-how for the market of the future. The United States introduced its National Quantum Initiative Act (NQI) at the end of 2018. Size: more than €1 billion ($1.2 billion) for five years. But some people are already calling for the funding level to be significantly increased. The Trump administration has also raised the possibility of an “industries of the future” plan. A total of $10 billion (€8.9 billion) would flow into four technology fields—5G, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and quantum information science (QIS)—annually through 2025.
China is investing this sum alone—$10 billion—in its Chinese National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, an institution that is scheduled to begin work this year in Hefei, the capital of Anhui Province. The XI government is also investing at least $2.5 billion annually in quantum research in order to gain a leading position in this strategic market of the future, according to media reports.
As an established technology nation, South Korea has developed some ambitious plans. The country will invest about €32 million (44.5 billion won) in the development quantum computers through 2023. The focal points of these investments are hardware, software and infrastructure. An additional €10 million (13.4 billion won) has been earmarked for quantum computer periphery. Japan has introduced the Quantum Leap Flagship Program and developed a roadmap that extends to 2040. One interim goal of the program is to develop a 100-qubit quantum computer by 2030. The agenda also includes quantum-based sensors and measuring technology and a new laser generation. Government funding of more than €800 million is being discussed, according to media reports. But today’s budgets are still in the eight-figure range. In the process, the country is intensifying its research partnerships with the United States and Europe to form an alliance that can counter the enormous efforts of China.
The governments of Israel and Russia are each investing around $350 million (€311 million) in the quantum revolution 2.0. Added to all of this are the rising R&D budgets of private industry that are designed to make the technological and commercial leap into the quantum age.