The DLR Quantum Computing Initiative has now been launched. Around 50 concepts have already been submitted to the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), and more are being prepared. In their concepts, companies, start-ups and research institutions set out the future challenges that they foresee in the field of quantum computing. DLR had asked interested market participants to put forward their ideas for the development of a quantum computing ecosystem. This process is still ongoing.
"In addition to participants in Germany, we have also heard from companies in neighbouring EU countries, the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom. They are planning to set up operations in Germany or relocate to Germany," says Robert Axmann, Head of Programme Strategy for Space Research and Technology. "The topics that we have specified encompass hardware, software, applications and manufacture." The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie; BMWi) will grant DLR 740 million euros in funding over the next four years for the development of German quantum computers and the creation of a suitable economic environment. Approximately 80 percent of the money will flow into the economy. DLR will team up with partners from industry, start-ups and research groups. Two innovation centres will also be established at the DLR sites in Ulm and Hamburg.
A roadmap for the next four years is being drawn up on the basis of the concepts that have been submitted. Companies will join the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative via ongoing contract awards during this time. "Business and industry have a strong interest in the development of quantum computers in Germany. This is because the usage and patent rights are designed to meet the needs of the further expansion of this industry," explains Axmann. The contracts will be financed and awarded via DLR.
Rapid calculations for transport and energy
Quantum computers are considered to be a key technology for the future. They can carry out calculations and simulations in specific fields of application much faster than conventional supercomputers. They can be used, for instance, in the transport and energy sectors, but also in fundamental research or in the operation of satellites. Quantum computers work on the basis of quantum physics. Their quantum bits (qubits) can not only adopt the states 0 and 1, but also intermediate values. This is what distinguishes them from conventional computers and makes them so powerful. Several DLR institutes are already working with quantum technologies. There is also a great need at DLR to conduct research on and with quantum computers.