The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has granted the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) 740 million euros in funding over the next few years for the purpose of combining and harnessing German expertise in quantum technology and establishing an industrial base. The aim is to construct a number of German prototype quantum computers with different architectures in the next four years within a consortium consisting of DLR, industrial partners and other research institutions. Together, they are driving forward the development of the hardware, software and applications for quantum computers. This endeavour is well aligned with DLR's central task of addressing the scientific, economic and security challenges facing society.
Approximately 80 percent of the funding will be further distributed among the industrial partners. Industrial innovation centres for quantum technologies will also be established. DLR will use the remaining 20 percent of the funding for its own research and development work. The opportunities offered by such technologies will be communicated across all application areas and economic sectors and help motivate and enable business and industry – SMEs and start-ups in particular – to develop new innovations and business areas.
"In DLR we have a strong partner who, together with industry, will drive quantum computing forward," says Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, emphasising the importance of quantum computing for Germany as a location for business. "The involvement of companies and start-ups is central to this as they provide important impetus for innovation and always have their sights set on implementing technologies in tangible products and applications. Our goal is for Germany to be among the world leaders in both the development and application of quantum technologies."
"The decision to entrust DLR with the leadership of this endeavour is based on our capabilities in the field of quantum technology and our extensive expertise in managing challenging, large-scale projects," emphasises Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "DLR has many years of relevant experience and is able to draw upon the necessary academic and industrial networks. The DLR-led initiative to develop quantum computers and the innovation centres will facilitate the establishment of new enterprises in Germany and encourage existing companies to increase their business activities here."
The project will involve industrial partners and research groups across Germany and is intended to drive the quantum technology start-up scene. The plan is to establish Hamburg as an innovation centre and Ulm as the project's primary hub.
"DLR will contribute its own research and development capabilities through two newly founded institutes in Ulm and Hanover," explains Hansjörg Dittus, Member of the DLR Executive Board for Space Research and Technology. "Here, we will develop knowledge and expertise that will enable entire industries to benefit from the applications of quantum computing in the future. These include aeronautics, road and rail transport and the improvement of energy and power grid management, among many others."
Within the project, DLR will investigate and implement various quantum computing architectures. These architectures are based on different concepts such as ion traps, diamond-based approaches, quantum dots and Rydberg atoms. The development of German quantum computers will ensure that the usage and patent rights earned in Germany will be retained by the industrial and research partners. The contracts awarded and financed via DLR will also strengthen national industry, spin-offs and start-ups. The 'DLR Quantum Computing Initiative' will also address the implementation of hybrid systems. Here, conventional and quantum computer systems will complement one another. One approach will see high-performance computers upgraded with components from quantum and analogue computers. This will make it possible to use quantum computers to solve problems that they are ideally suited for and then use conventional computers to further process the results.