The promotion of quantum technologies in Europe

17/May/2021

Budgets, strategic priorities and funding schemes in the 31 member countries: a recently published report by the European QuantERA network provides an overview.

​Research in the field of quantum technology (QT) has demonstrated its scientific, economic and societal potential for decades. Now technological breakthroughs are close, especially in the areas of quantum measurement, imaging and communication. The second quantum revolution is well underway. QuantERA has supported 38 interdisciplinary QT projects involving research groups from several countries since 2016. Switzerland is actively involved in the network through the participation of the SNSF.

Although its potential is generally understood, QT research is not always a political priority. What is the funding situation in individual countries? To answer this question, QuantERA has published a report on QT policies. It provides an overview benefiting all stakeholders (researchers, public authorities, funding agencies, etc.) and aims to include QT as a priority on national research agendas.

Great diversity

The majority of programmes supporting QT research are based on a bottom-up approach that allows researchers to choose their research topic. At the same time, countries such as Switzerland have set up dedicated national programmes which define strategic QT priorities. These vary from one country to another, although some trends can be observed, such as quantum computing and simulations, quantum imaging, metrology and sensing.

The report shows significant differences in national budgets, ranging from less than €1 million to more than €50 million annually. The UK and Israel are in the lead (> €50m), followed by Germany (€20-30m), Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland (€10-20m). However, it is difficult to make comparisons between countries because the differences could be attributed to the size of the research communities or the types of costs that are included in these budgets.

By analysing strategic priorities and public funding for quantum research, the report provides stakeholders with an important overview. In addition, it facilitates transnational coordination and further development of European research programmes, with a view to contributing to Europe's global competitiveness.

Switzerland at the forefront

Some programmes are highlighted in the report because of their pioneering role and their ability to strengthen Europe's position in the field. A considerable number of these programmes are run in countries associated with the EU, such as Switzerland, which is in fact a leading force in QT research thanks to a variety of dedicated programmes. The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) "QSIT - Quantum Science and Technology" is of particular importance in this context because of its multidisciplinary approach involving physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering.

At the European level, the European Commission launched the Quantum Flagship Initiative in 2018. It is the third major research and innovation initiative of its kind, with a budget of more than €1 billion. Thanks to the pioneering role of Swiss QT research, in particular through the NCCR QSIT, an above-average number of our researchers are participating in the Quantum Flagship: of the twenty projects funded between 2018 and 2020, two are coordinated in Switzerland (macQsimal and QRANGE). The strong position of Switzerland is also confirmed by the leading role that Swiss companies in QT play alongside the large players in the field worldwide.​

QuantERA report on funding policies

Contact

Division: Mathematics, natural and engineering sciences
Ahmad Zein Assi
E-mail quantera@snf.ch