News In Context

Europe’s Quest To Become The World’s Quantum Valley

Over the past week Europe announced its latest moves to shore up its position in the global quantum computing race.

ORCA Computing, Pixel Photonics, Sparrow Quantum, and the Niels Bohr Institute announced their collaboration on the Eurostars project ‘SupremeQ.’ The initiative brings together quantum experts from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark with a shared goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of photonic quantum computing technologies to deliver quantum advantage.

Meanwhile, as part of its €1 billion National Strategy for Quantum, France just launched what is called the PROQCIMA  initiative. The aim of the €500 million program is to develop a universal fault-tolerant quantum computer with 128 logical qubits by 2032. The Ministry of Defense has selected a cohort of five quantum startups: Alice & Bob, which is developing a cat qubit fault-tolerant architecture; PASQAL, a company specializing in what is called neural-atom quantum computing with a roadmap to deliver a 10,000 qubit system by 2026; C12, which is developing custom quantum hardware for integration with classical supercomputers and using materials that eradicate so-called nuclear spin noise; Quandela, which has developed Prometheus, a high-quality generator of optical qubits based on single photons and Quably, which is aiming to build scalable quantum computers using existing European semiconductor fabs.

These efforts – along with Quantum Flagship, a large-scale, long-term research initiative with a budget of €1 billion funded by the EU that brings together research institutions, industry, and public funders -are part of an effort to make Europe the leading region globally for quantum innovation.

The potential of quantum is huge, and all major world regions are investing heavily in this highly strategic field. Quantum will impact multiple industries central to a country’s competitiveness and sovereignty such as aerospace, defense, pharma, and chemicals. If Europe wants to maintain its global relevance as well as self-sufficiency in key economic areas, it must ensure access and master quantum capabilities in all stages of the supply chain, from R&D to manufacturing and end applications, says the Boston Consulting Group.

The EU is aiming to do just that. The bloc’s Digital Decade strategy  aims for Europe to have its first supercomputer with quantum acceleration by 2025, paving the way to being at the cutting edge of quantum capabilities by 2030. The European Chips Act also includes measures to foster the low-cost, high-volume manufacturing of quantum chips in the EU, so that they can power a whole range of innovative quantum devices.

On 5 December 2023 the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU launched a declaration that EU Member States are signing to indicate that they recognize the strategic importance of quantum technologies for the scientific and industrial competitiveness of the EU and commit to collaborating on the development of a world-class quantum technology ecosystem across Europe, with the ultimate aim of making Europe the ‘quantum valley’ of the world.

As part of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU), the Commission is  planning to build state-of-the-art pilot quantum computers. These computers will act as accelerators interconnected with the Joint Undertaking’s supercomputers, forming ‘hybrid’ machines that blend the best of quantum and classical computing technologies.

In October 2022, the EuroHPC JU announced the selection of six sites across the EU to host the first European quantum computers, which will be integrated into EuroHPC supercomputers. These newly acquired quantum computers will be based on purely state-of-the-art European technology and will be located at sites in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Poland. The investment totals €100 million, with 50% coming from the EU and 50% from 17 of the EuroHPC JU participating countries. It is the first step towards the deployment of a European quantum computing infrastructure, which will be accessible to European users from science and industry via the cloud on a non-commercial basis. This infrastructure will address complex simulation and optimization problems, especially in materials development, drug discovery, weather forecasting, transportation, and other real-world problems of high importance to industry and society.



Neurolink Showcases First Patient’s Use Of Its Brain-Computer Implant

Neuralink introduced the first patient to receive its brain-computer implant, a 29-year-old diving-accident victim who showed during a livestream that he can now move a computer cursor using the device.In a nine-minute presentation streamed on Elon Musk’s X platform, Neuralink showed Noland Arbaugh directing the cursor around a screen to play a game of chess. Moving a computer cursor isn’t a big technical leap for brain-computer interfaces. An older brain chip first implanted in a human in 2004 also helped a paralyzed person move a cursor with only their thoughts. But the older chip must be attached to a device on the outside of the brain to transmit data, requiring wires protruding through the skin.

Nvidia And Johnson & Johnson To Develop New AI Applications For Surgery

Johnson & Johnson on March 18 announced it is working with Nvidia to develop and scale new artificial intelligence applications for surgery. J&J’s MedTech unit and Nvidia plan to integrate AI within devices and platforms from pre-op to post-op to help ensure that surgeons have access to all the information they need, Nvidia’s vice president of health care Kimberly Powell said. For instance, the companies are using AI to analyze surgical video and automate the time-consuming documentation required after a procedure. “There’s an ability to use all the sources of data inside an operating room, whether it’s your voice, or whether it’s the video coming from a camera inside the body, or elsewhere, to take advantage of the generative AI moment that we’re in,” Powell told CNBC in an interview. 


Central Banks Use AI To Assess Climate-Related Risks

Central bankers said on March 19 they have broken new ground by using artificial intelligence to collect data for assessing climate-related financial risks, just as the volume of disclosures from banks and other companies is set to rise. The Bank for International Settlements, a forum for central banks, the Bank of Spain, Germany’s Bundesbank and the European Central Bank said their experimental Gaia AI project was used to analyze company disclosures on carbon emissions, green bond issuance and voluntary Net-Zero commitments. Regulators of banks, insurers and asset managers need high-quality data to assess the impact of climate-change on financial institutions. However, the absence of a single reporting standard confronts them with a patchwork of public information spread across text, tables and footnotes in annual reports.Gaia was able to overcome differences in definitions and disclosure frameworks across jurisdictions to offer much-needed transparency, and make it easier to compare indicators on climate-related financial risks, the central banks said in a joint statement.

UN Adopts First Global Artificial Intelligence Resolution

The United Nations General Assembly on March 21 unanimously adopted the first global resolution on artificial intelligence that encourages countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor AI for risks. The nonbinding resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by China and over 120 other nations, also advocates the strengthening of privacy policies.”Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

Saudi Arabia Plans $40 Billion Push Into AI

Saudi Arabia’s government plans to create a fund of about $40 billion to invest in artificial intelligence, the New York Times reported on March 19, citing people briefed on the plans.Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) have discussed a potential partnership with U.S. venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and other financiers in recent weeks, the newspaper reported.


The U.S. Department Of Justice Sues Apple Over iPhone Monopoly

The U.S. Department of Justice sued Apple on March 21, saying its iPhone ecosystem is a monopoly that drove its “astronomical valuation” at the expense of consumers, developers and rival phone makers.The government has not ruled out breaking up one of the largest companies in the world, with a Justice Department official saying on a briefing call that structural relief was on the table if the U.S. were to win, according to CNBC.The lawsuit claims Apple’s anti-competitive practices extend beyond the iPhone and Apple Watch businesses, citing Apple’s advertising, browser, FaceTime ,and news offerings. “Each step in Apple’s course of conduct built and reinforced the moat around its smartphone monopoly,” according to the suit, filed by the DOJ and 16 attorneys general in New Jersey federal court.

To access more of The Innovator’s Interview Of The Week articles click here.


About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.