Since the 2018 launch of the EU’s €1bn Quantum Technologies Flagship, which sparked a raft of public investment, the EU quantum ecosystem has grown exponentially.
The Flagship, overseen by the EU Directorate‑General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT), was designed to incentivise development and production of quantum computers; with the eventual goal of implementing an EU-wide ‘quantum web’ of computers, sensors and simulators connected through quantum networks. At its inception, the Flagship directed funding to 20 quantum development projects; by the end of its 10-year run, it is anticipated the Flagship will have provided funding and support to more than 5,000 researchers working on developing the EU quantum ecosystem.
Germany-based theoretical physicist Tommaso Calarco said: “[Quantum] startups are beginning to sprout like mushrooms. Every workshop I go to now, there’s a new one I haven’t seen before. A year ago, it would have been difficult to pick out the promising companies. There was this concern that Europe was falling behind everyone else; that we would miss the global rush. But now, hope is strengthened. It’s no longer a flagship that’s emerging, but a quantum fleet.”
Christopher Jurczak, founder of quantum venture capital firm Quantonation, said: “I’d like to see more money for quantum. There is a shortage of manpower everywhere. National governments must start working on training and creating new master’s degrees. You also still need a lot of money for fundamental research – the UK got out there early [with an investment programme worth £270m (€300.95m), announced in 2013]. It was a bit ahead of the curve. If it’s disruptive innovation you’re funding, you shouldn’t be asking to see performance indicators from companies. This is long-term and pre-revenue. I’d like the [European] Commission to really understand this. I’m just a bit worried there may be a disconnect between words and fact.”