Quantum Computing in Germany to Make Big Leap

July 2022

Until recently, the lists of the world’s leaders in quantum computing made for somewhat tedious reading. The vast majority of practical breakthroughs in the field came from either the Unites States or China, and the largest venture capital investments in QC start-ups took place in either the US or Britain.

That may be changing. The German-Finnish start-up IQM has taken in some EUR 128 million in funds from investors and rocketed up to sixth overall in terms of the volume of deals, according to business newspaper Handelsblatt. In contrast to most German enterprises, IQM is focusing not on software, but on the hardware that will be required for further future advances in the technology. Its work centers around superconducting circuits, an approach it shares with technology giant IBM.

Germany has already established itself as the hub of supercomputing in Europe.

Back in March, a consortium of 25 German research institutions and companies called QSolid announced plans to construct Germany’s first quantum computer, relying on German technology. The computer is to be integrated into the supercomputing infrastructure at the standard-setting Jülich Forschungszentrum (Research Center). The first demonstrator is to go into operation in mid-2024, and the emphasis will be on industrial applications.

“Our focus is on improving the quality of the quantum bits, a goal we are pursuing on all levels in QSolid,” Prof. Frank Wilhelm-Mauch from Forschungszentrum Jülich said on the QSolid website, when the project was made public. “The optimizations we have in mind start with next-generation superconducting circuits with a particularly low error rate, which we plan to achieve using high-precision manufacturing methods and new material systems.”

In May 2021, the previous German government allocated EUR two billion for quantum computing. And the present government’s coalition agreement calls for Germany’s developmental bank KfW to do more, including as a co-venture-capital-investor, to support quantum technology.

Leading international companies are also looking toward Germany. On July 20, listed US firm IonQ – third on the list of VC investments in quantum computing – announced that it would found a German subsidiary, IonQ GmbH.

Computer element at the Jülich research center © Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau