Diagram of new quantum chip

Germany to invest €2bn in building first quantum computer

Image credit: University of New South Wales

The German government is to spend billions of euros to support the development of the country’s first quantum computer and related technologies.

The announcement, reported by Reuters, was made by the economy and science ministries this week. The science ministry will contribute €1.1bn by 2025 to support R&D in quantum computing, while the economy ministry will contribute €878m to support the development of applications.

The German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the national aeronautics and space research centre, will receive the largest share of the funds (€720m). The funds will help it team up with industry – ranging from large companies to start-ups – in order to form two consortia for quantum computing.

“Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionise key industries of our economy,” said Peter Altmaier, the economy minister, citing areas such as managing supply and demand and testing new active substances. “It’s our goal that Germany will become one of the best players worldwide in the development and practical application of quantum computing.”

Science minister Anja Karliczek added that the government aims to build a competitive quantum computer in five years while growing a network of companies to develop applications: “Today, we start the mission quantum computer 'Made in Germany' and now we are ready for take-off,” she said.

The large state subsidies will need to be approved by the European Commission. It is unlikely to reject the proposals, having used its 2030 Digital Compass plan to urge member states to develop the bloc’s first quantum computer (complexity not specified) in five years amid a wider effort to reduce reliance on non-European technologies.

In 2019, the UK government pledged to spend £153m in public funding on the domestic development of quantum computing.

Quantum computing involves the use of quantum phenomena such as superposition to carry out calculations. Quantum computers use quantum versions of bits (qubits); while bits can be either a 0 or a 1, a qubit can represent 0, 1, or any superposition of these two states. While quantum computers are in very early stages of development, they have the potential to exponentially expand computing power, transforming certain sectors such as cyber security and research.

Meanwhile, the DLR has partnered with Cambridge Quantum Computing to explore how quantum computing could help create improved simulations for battery development to assist future energy utilisation. DLR will use Cambridge Quantum Computing’s algorithms to simulate a 1D lithium-ion battery cell, laying the foundation for simulations of complete battery cells with quantum computers, including full 3D models. DLR plans to render its quantum simulations using an IBM quantum computer.

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