EU quantum internet experts, industry actors discuss ways to lead next digital connectivity revolution

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM—Policy leaders, scientists and executives from the European Parliament, European Commission, world-leading European universities, start-ups and industry giants gathered recently to chart next steps in advancing Europe’s technological leadership in quantum internet technology.

In a lunch event on 05 December 2023 at the European Parliament, thought leaders, eminent scientists and decision makers from EU policy institutions and EU member states gathered to discuss and identify the required actions for translating the ground-breaking quantum internet R&D results into world-leading innovation.

Member of the European Parliament from Latvia – Ivars Ijabs highlighted in his welcome remarks the importance of the event and explained the transformative role of quantum internet in communication technology, computation, and security.

“As we navigate through the fast-paced currents of the digital age, the quantum internet emerges as the technology of the future, offering unprecedented opportunities and transforming the landscape of communication, computation, and security. It is not just a technological evolution; it’s a revolution in the truest sense,” Ijabs noted.

The quantum internet offers capabilities far beyond the scope of and would complement today’s internet, such as unprecedented levels of security, enhanced privacy, advanced sensing and metrology, and accelerated communication solutions.

Presentations and discussions during the event highlighted Europe’s strategic position in leading the global quantum internet development given its top talents, world class research, and active and close collaboration of industry and member states. However, public funding and private investments need to ramp up to take its world leading technology from lab to market, and remain competitive on a world stage.

As such, experts and decisionmakers present in the event concluded the following as pre-requisites to ensure a leading role: i) use case development demonstrating a broad value for society and commercial success; ii) building of network infrastructure, i.e. testbeds to take the technology from lab to innovation, showcasing the potential of this technology; iii) increased funding for quantum internet R&D to remain at the forefront of this technology world-wide; and iv) workforce development and immediate measures to attract-retain top talent.

Gustav Kalbe, Acting Director of DG CNECT C-Digital Excellence & Science Infrastructure of the European Commission, stated that it is important to have sustained funding for the development of quantum internet, especially in supporting pilot projects that may lead to a quantum internet technology rollout 10 years from now.

“We are willing to take the risk and to provide a public infrastructure, even if the exact form is not known at this point, for everyone to use as a playground for various applications—a venue to test ideas and identify and solve engineering, technical and security problems. Perhaps in 10-15 years there will be no need for public funding as there will already be a market for a new quantum internet industry,” Kalbe said during the event.

In Europe, Quantum Internet Alliance (QIA) is taking the lead in building a global quantum internet made in Europe. It consists of 41 academic institutions, telecom operators, system integrators and quantum technology start-ups across nine (9) European countries. It is currently co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

“Europe, with its groundbreaking achievements, abundant talent pool, and robust support from public and private sectors, holds a distinct competitive advantage in leading the global development of quantum internet. Still, the rest of the world gaining similar momentum underscores the need for swift action to maintain Europe’s strategic position in leading the next digital revolution,” QIA Director Stephanie Wehner said as a key takeaway from the event.

Aside from Ijabs, Kalbe and Wehner, the event also welcomed representatives from academia, industry, European institutions, and member states. It was organised at the sidelines of the European Innovation Area Summit 2023.

Read event recap here

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